11 Feb 2011

Canada criticised for lack of action on abuses at PNG mine

6:44 am on 11 February 2011

The independent organisation, Human Rights Watch says the Canadian government's stance on issues around the conduct of Barrick Gold International in Papua New Guinea is indefensible.

This follows the move by the Canada-based miner, which operates the Porgera goldmine in PNG's Enga province, to sack five employees at that mine over abuses against villagers, including pack rapes.

Dozens of women say they were beaten, tortured or raped by members of the mine's 450-strong private security force in abuses dating to 2008.

Human Rights Watch's Chris Albin-Lackey says Canada's government has resisted exercising any oversight over its corporate citizens abroad.

"So one thing that absolutely has to happen is if Canada is going to derive so much wealth from the activities of those companies working all around the world, it has to acknowledge some basic responsibility to oversee the way they're acting in places like Papua New Guinea where the local governments just aren't up to the task of doing the job and don't seem particularly interested even if they were."

Police are investigating the alleged attacks, while Barrick Gold has also started an internal investigation.