The world’s second-biggest gold miner was sued by twenty-one Tanzanian nationals on Wednesday after Tanzanians alleged that they or their family members were killed, injured or tortured by police guarding a Barrick gold mine.
They filed a legal claim at the British High Court against subsidiaries of Canada-based Barrick Gold alleging serious abuses by security forces, including local police, employed at Barrick’s North Mara gold mine.
According to the filing at the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, one of the plaintiffs was beaten by the police including relatives of five men killed by Tanzanian police assigned to the mine.
Barrick Gold spokesperson said the company had received a copy of the legal action that just consisted of false information.
The lawsuit attempts to advance claims against Barrick Gold Corporation in Ontario based on alleged actions of the Tanzanian police, even though Barrick exercises no control or direction of any nature over the Tanzanian police.
“We intend to vigorously defend against these allegations in the appropriate forum,” she added.
However, this is the first case filed against Barrick Gold in a Canadian court for reportedly intrusions abroad.
Defendant Barrick says it does not supervise or control the police who patrol outside the mine, and it denies responsibility for the actions of the police. It also says any police assigned to the mine site are required to undergo training on human rights. But in a report in 2020, Barrick acknowledged that the police receive support from the company under the terms of the written agreement. It did not provide details of the support.
One of the lawyers, Joe Fiorante, who filed the lawsuit in Toronto on Wednesday on behalf of the Tanzanians, said it was important to launch the case in the city where Barrick has its headquarters since Barrick has repeatedly claimed to have “zero tolerance” for human rights abuses.
“We are attempting to hold the parent companies, the headquarters, to their self-proclaimed human rights and security standards,” Mr Fiorante told The Globe in an interview.