LSE-listed Petra Diamonds bowed to pressure and agreed to settle the claims of 71 Tanzanian nationals who suffered human rights abuses at its Williamson Mine in Tanzania. This is according to UK corporate watchdog RAID.
Petra Diamonds has agreed to pay a total of £4.3 million in a wide-ranging compensation package. A further 25 claims are being investigated as part of the settlement, which could increase the total payout.The claimants include residents of nearby communities who were shot, beaten, stabbed, assaulted, detained in a filthy and cramped holding cell by the mine’s entrance, and handcuffed to hospital beds by security personnel employed at the mine. The victims were represented by the British human rights law firm Leigh Day.
In a press release and a further statement to the market, Petra Diamonds said that it had “acted decisively to hold individuals to account” and that the mine “is committed to cooperating with the relevant prosecuting authorities” in relation to abuses. It said disciplinary action had been taken and that certain employees had left, or would be leaving, the company. The company also said it had appointed a new security contractor and closed the on-site detention facility.
Furthermore, Petra Diamonds stated that it was allocating funds for community projects to include enhanced community medical support, access to the concession to collect firewood and graze livestock, and a gender-based violence campaign to provide support and counselling for victims. It also said it had launched a company grievance mechanism where local residents could bring complaints which would “be managed by an independent panel and operate according to the highest international standards.”
“Public exposure and legal action by courageous Tanzanian citizens has forced Petra Diamonds to face up to the dreadful human rights abuses at its Williamson Mine. But to ensure there is no repeat of the company’s harmful practices, Petra Diamonds should allow effective independent monitoring of the security and human rights situation going forward. Without this, it will be hard to have faith that the company has truly changed its ways,” stated Anneke Van Woudenberg, executive director at RAID.”
Van Woudenberg added, “Petra Diamonds’ ethical claims have been exposed as nothing more than window dressing to promote its diamonds. ESG investors and others who have backed Petra Diamonds and believed the company’s ethical claims should look long and hard at why their vetting practices failed to identify this empty rhetoric and ask questions about what they might be missing at other companies who make similar ethical claims.”