A settlement has been reached with diamond miner Petra Diamonds over allegations of serious human rights violations at his majority-owned Williamson diamond mine in Tanzania.
Leigh Day law firm accepted the settlement on behalf of 71 claimants who allege serious human rights violations by security personnel employed or under contract by the Williamson mine and by police who work at the mine Williamson and surrounding area.
Petra has denied the involvement of Williamson Diamonds employees.
Ten of the complaints were lodged by the families of those allegedly killed at the mine.
The complaints were brought to the High Court in London against Petra and its majority-owned Tanzanian subsidiary, Williamson Diamonds, in February and July 2020.
Following successful negotiations between the parties, the settlement includes far-reaching measures that benefit victims and the wider communities near the mine.
As part of the settlement agreement, Petra will pay financial compensation to the 71 victims. The amounts in question remain confidential and have not been disclosed.
Financial training and support to access medical assistance will also be provided to victims.
In addition, a fund has been set up to finance a range of restorative justice measures aimed at ensuring the economic development of communities near the Williamson diamond mine over a three-year period.
Projects will be selected following a community assessment process. The projects will potentially include an artisanal mining project at the mine and an agricultural business initiative.
The value of the fund will be added to the existing corporate social responsibility budget of Petra and its subsidiary.
Petra will also develop a medical support program to help the community as a whole, with a focus on assisting victims of human rights violations in the mine.
The medical support project will include physiotherapy and rehabilitation services, psychological support and awareness programs. Satellite services will work with the hospital to bring medical screening closer to local communities.
Measures will also be put in place to allow local residents to access parts of the mine to collect firewood and / or for animal grazing.
Arrangements were made for another 25 requests to be fully investigated and added to the cohort. A substantive framework for the assessment of the second cohort of claims was agreed upon as part of the resolution process.
In addition, an Operational Level Independent Complaints Mechanism (OGM) has been agreed and the aim is to develop and implement it within one year.
The GMO will comply with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
It aims to enable any future complaints of personal injury, sexual violence, bogus imprisonment and other human rights violations in and around the mine to be resolved in a fair, local, transparent and expeditious manner.
An independent observer will observe and report publicly on the GMO every six months. If the GMO does not perform as agreed, Leigh Day reserves the right to offer legal representation to those with valid grievances, the law firm notes.
In a spirit of transparency and cooperation, the companies will disclose to complainants and their legal advisers all documents held in connection with their case, including medical files kept at Mwadui Hospital.
The companies also agreed to incorporate, within two months, a no-harassment and victimization policy to protect victims and human rights defenders from future harm or intimidation.
Leigh Day says he understands that Petra will publicly announce the steps it will take to hold perpetrators of these serious human rights violations accountable, including the nature of their continued cooperation with relevant prosecuting authorities.
Petra is also expected to explain the steps it will take to improve the tracking and accountability of its security forces in the future, the firm notes.
In a separate statement, Petra says it released the findings of its independent board subcommittee regarding alleged human rights violations at the Williamson mine.
He claims to have sought to fully understand the allegations through an external investigation.
Based on the findings of the independent subcommittee of the board, Petra acknowledges that past incidents have occurred which unfortunately resulted in loss of life, injury and abuse of illegal miners in the mining permit area.
The incidents in question involved third-party security provider Zenith Security, as well as the Tanzanian police, he said.
During the investigation, no evidence emerged that staff at Petra or Williamson Diamonds were directly involved in these actions, Petra adds.
He says he took immediate precautionary measures to address the concerns raised, ahead of the investigation’s findings and to mitigate the risk of future incidents.
Petra therefore accepted the settlement, on a disclaimer basis, with respect to the claims filed by Leigh Day on behalf of the plaintiffs, in relation to alleged human rights violations, associated with criminal operations. third party security.
He says the total amount agreed for the settlement is £ 4.3million, which includes the sum to be distributed to claimants by Leigh Day, a contribution to claimants’ legal fees and funds that will be invested in dedicated programs. to providing long-term sustainable support to the communities living around the mine.