By Geoffrey York and Niall McGee, The Globe and Mail
Two law firms have filed suit against Barrick Gold Corp. in Ontario Superior Court on behalf of 21 Tanzanians who allege that they or their family members were killed, injured or tortured by police guarding a Barrick gold mine.
The case, filed on Wednesday morning, is the first to be pursued against Barrick in Canadian courts for alleged human rights violations at its mines abroad. It follows a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2020 that allowed a Vancouver-based mining company to be sued in British Columbia for alleged abuses in Eritrea.
The Tanzanian plaintiffs, Indigenous Kurya villagers who live in communities around Barrick’s North Mara gold mine in northern Tanzania, are accusing the police of five deaths, five injuries and five incidents of torture. They say Barrick is liable because the police are paid and equipped by Barrick under a formal agreement between the company and the Tanzanian Police Force.
Catherine Coumans, research co-ordinator at MiningWatch Canada, said it is “tragic” that violence by mine security at North Mara has continued for more than a decade. “The sheer scale of the losses has left deep scars in all of the communities around the mine,” she told The Globe. “It is very important that this case has been filed in Barrick’s home country where Barrick is seen as a flagship company and receives a lot of political support.”
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