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Archive for the ‘COMPENSATION’ Category


A group photo of Porgera community women and men who say they were raped or<br /><br />
violently abused at the gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corporation.

A group photo of Porgera community women and men who say they were raped or violently abused at the gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corporation. 

Eleven women and girls who were raped, gang-raped or violently molested in the Papua New Guinea Highlands have reached an out-of-court settlement with the world’s biggest gold miner, having refused to accept the “insulting” compensation paid to 120 fellow victims of the company’s security guards.

“It would be like accepting lollies as compensation,” one of the 11 told Fairfax Media. Identified only as Jane Doe 10, she was 14 when she and two teenage friends were raped in 2010 at the Porgera mine, owned by the Barrick Gold Corporation.

The Porgera community says security guards and mobile police at the mine have raped more than 200 women and girls over the past two decades. It says men and boys have been beaten, shot and killed for entering the open pit or tailings dumps or going near the mine’s property.

The 11 women were preparing to sue Barrick Gold in the United States, convinced they would be unable to find justice in PNG. The human rights group EarthRights International had been scheduled to file a lawsuit late last month in Las Vegas because the Toronto-based miner has major operations in the state of Nevada.

But the women reached an undisclosed settlement which is likely to be well above the 21,320 kina ($10,430) they say Barrick offered most of them. The settlement also covered the families of three people allegedly killed in violence at the mine.

Barrick says 90 per cent of the women who came forward with allegations accepted packages ranging from 23,040 to 32,740 kia under a “remedial framework” established in October 2012. It says the payouts were determined not by Barrick but an independent group of PNG women’s advocates, and they were at “the upper end of civil court judgments in sexual assault and rape cases” in the country.

These women had to agree never to seek further damages, a provision condemned by MiningWatch Canada, which investigated the abuses – as did Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and legal clinics at Harvard and New York University law schools. But Barrick said the UN High Commission on Human Rights reviewed the remedial framework and the legal waiver was consistent with UN guiding principles.

The mine’s ever-expanding waste dumps, EarthRights says, give impoverished Porgera women and girls little option but to enter the company’s property to scavenge for remnants of gold or to cross the site to reach agricultural land, commercial areas, schools and other villages.

The oldest of the Porgera 11, now aged in her 80s, alleges she was raped many times. Jane Doe 10, now 19, is the youngest, along with another girl who was also 14 when they and an older teenager were seized by three mobile policemen at the mine.

The officers each raped one of the girls. One officer has died but two are awaiting sentencing this month for their crimes.

“I brought disgrace to my community and my parents,” Jane Doe 10 said, speaking through an interpreter. When she returned to school she had been mocked, such is the social stigma associated with rape. She promptly left school and gave up on an education. She married young but, when her husband learned about the rape, he assaulted her and abandoned her with their young child.

The remedial framework compensation package was very low by local customary standards, say Jane Doe 10 and another of the 11 women, Jane Doe 2. To accept it would “add disgrace to the disgrace”, Jane Doe 10 said.

Jane Doe 2 was collecting firewood near the mine’s tailings dump when two security guards raped her. She said they threw her against sharp stones and she still carries the injuries. Her husband’s response to the rape was to beat her and abandon her.

Then security guards at the mine raped her daughter, also near the dump.

“We are both victims,” Jane Doe 2 said, “and now I am finding it difficult to look after my kids as well as my daughter’s.

“I treated Barrick as one of my sons. I have given my land to Barrick. But in return Barrick has not shown any respect … so now I am going to file a lawsuit,” she said on the eve of the aborted action in Las Vegas.

Mother and daughter say they still have no choice but to return to the scene of their rapes to find scraps of gold.

In 2008, EarthRights says, Barrick’s chief executive wrote in a letter to Porgeran leaders that claims of gang rape were “most distasteful, to say the least as you know these allegations to be untrue”.

Asked if it was slow to accept the abuses, Barrick’s vice-president, communications, Andy Lloyd, told Fairfax Media: “When allegations first surfaced, the company attempted to investigate the claims but was unsuccessful in identifying victims or perpetrators.

“When Human Rights Watch came to us with credible information, we acted immediately, terminating the employees implicated in the assaults and handing over all information to the PNG police. We regret that we were unable to uncover these assaults sooner.”

Barrick bought the mine in 2006 and many assaults predate its arrival. However, a local human rights activist, Karath Mal Waka, from the Akali Tange Association, who acted as translator for Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 10, says sexual assaults persist. He says an eight-year-old was raped recently at the mine.

Mr Lloyd replied: “There have been no cases of Barrick employees involved in sexual assaults since 2010. We are aware of an incident similar to the one you are describing, however it did not occur on the mine site and it did not involve a Porgera Joint Venture employee.”

Asked about the shooting of men and boys – which a local association has put at 14 deaths in the past 10 years – Mr Lloyd said: “The mine’s security guards do not carry lethal ammunition.”

Mr Waka says more than 100 rape victims – girls and women, many married – were not covered by the remedial framework and he wants Barrick to reopen that program for them. Mr Lloyd was unaware of any extra claims and said the framework was advertised widely over many months.

The amount to be paid to the 11 women is not known. It is unlikely to approach the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars that juries in the US can award to rape victims.

When Fairfax Media covered the story in February 2011, one woman described how she and three others were raped by 10 security personnel, one of whom forced her to swallow a used condom that he had used while raping the other victims.

A 26-year-old woman was allegedly raped while collecting native vegetables near the mine in January 2011 – after Barrick had taken action. Because she resisted, her genitals were repeatedly burnt with a hot rod, the Porgera Alliance alleged.

Jethro Tulin, executive officer of the Akali Tange Association, said before the settlement: “Barrick has been raping our wives and daughters and killing our fathers, brothers and sons for years.”

Catherine Coumans, of MiningWatch Canada, said: “Barrick tried to push the problem under the rug for many years despite regular reports of human rights abuses committed by its security forces, documented by numerous researchers and human rights organisations.”

In a joint statement after the settlement, Barrick and EarthRights International said: “All claimants are pleased with this resolution.”

Mr Lloyd said Barrick took action at all of its mines around the world after after the Porgera allegations came to light, and it had “zero tolerance” for human rights abuses.

“Since then, thousands of employees have undergone human rights training, we implemented a new global human rights policy, we have carried out human rights training for local police forces [including in PNG], we have formed a partnership with White Ribbon to carry out awareness and prevention programs aimed at stopping violence against women in communities where we operate.

“In PNG, we worked with leading human rights experts to develop the remedy program, perhaps the first of its kind ever implemented by a mining company. We are also funding community-based initiatives … to combat violence against women.”

Barrick is negotiating to sell the Porgera mine. Any liabilities from future victim claims would remain with the mine, Mr Lloyd confirmed.



Woman awarded $3.8m after

brother sold her home and fled

THE  government has been ordered to pay $3.8 million to a woman who was in cloisters in an Italian nunnery when her brother stole the title to her home and sold it from under her.

Teresa Nadia Pedulla lived with an order of nuns in Sicily and then Calabria for five years, before leaving to care for her dying father in June 2009.

While she was in Italy, her brother Fernando Rene Panetta used fraudulent means to obtain the certificate of title to her North Curl Curl home.

He took out several mortgages against the Soniver Road property, including one for $1.99 million, then sold it for $3.8 million in March this year.

Mr Panetta and his wife, Anna Lam, each received $684,890.92 from the sale and left Australia on separate flights on May 25. They have not been seen since.

The NSW Supreme Court ordered the NSW government to compensate Mrs Pedulla from the Torrens Assurance Fund.

Justice Michael Penbroke found Mrs Pedulla could claim under the Real Property Act in circumstances where the loss arises from ”having been deprived of the land, or of any estate or interest in the land, as a consequence of a fraudulent act.

The Registrar General was also ordered to pay Mrs Pedulla’s costs.

The court heard a solicitor, Lewis Fineman Yee, was ”central and causative” to the ”brazen and fraudulent conduct” of Mr Panetta.

In July and August 2006, Mr Yee obtained the certificate of title by falsely saying Mrs Pedulla was his client.

He swore a false statutory declaration, produced a forged power of attorney and witnessed Mr Panetta’s signature when the transfer of registration was lodged in March 2007 for only $1 consideration.

Mrs Pedulla didn’t discover she had lost her ownership of the house until April this year when her brother was in Italy after the death of their father.

Justice Penbroke said Mr Yee acted out of obligation to Ms Lam, with whom he had a long-term business, domestic and intimate relationship before she married Mr Panetta. However, he found Mr Yee was not an ”innocent dupe” but played a major key role in the fraud.

Police shooting wheelchair victim

awarded $8m but fight not over

11 Jun, 2011 12:00 AM
A man rendered a quadriplegic after a police shooting almost a decade ago has been awarded $8million in damages.But the legal battle is set to continue for Jonathan Anthony Crowley and his family, who waited more than two years for Justice Hilary Penfold to deliver her verdict on his negligence claim, with two of the defendants already flagging intent to appeal. 

Mr Crowley, who was confined to a wheelchair after the December 11, 2001 shooting, sued the Australian Federal Police, the officer who shot him and ACT Mental Health. Last month, Justice Penfold found all three defendants breached their duties of care towards Mr Crowley.

Parties reached an agreement on the quantum of damages, avoiding potentially months of further legal wrangling in front of the judge to determine the sum.

Justice Penfold entered a judgment for Mr Crowley yesterday, days before his 44th birthday, in the amount of $8million and ordered the defendants to pay his costs.

But the Commonwealth, the territory and the officer will now have to settle on apportionment of the damages.

And the Commonwealth and Glen Pitkethly, the police officer who pulled the trigger, flagged yesterday intent to appeal against the decision.

The ACT Supreme Court also heard it was likely ACT Mental Health would also seek advice about fighting the ruling.

The potential challenges mean it could be some time before Mr Crowley sees the bulk of his pay-out.

Mr Crowley welcomed the decision yesterday but said the prospect of appeals was daunting.

”Well, it’s only half what we were seeking but we didn’t really have the money to fight on for that, so we’re fairly happy to settle on that amount [$8million],” Mr Crowley said.

”[Appeals] scare me … because we’re pretty much in desperate need for better physio and better equipment.

”And longer hours for care, because we’re really struggling at the moment.”

Several days before the shooting, Mr Crowley, 34, showed signs of a psychotic episode.

The day before the shooting, an ACT Mental Health psychologist assessed him at his home and recommended he be treated at a hospital.

The next morning Mr Crowley left the family home in Chapman with a kendo stick and walked through the suburb chanting religious slogans and scaring neighbours.

The two officers approached him and tried unsuccessfully to subdue him with capsicum spray before Mr Pitkethly shot him in the neck shortly after calling for back-up.

The matter is due back in court next month.

Attempts  to pay Chinese killer


Kirsty Needham

June 1, 2011

"Very complex case" ... Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister.“Very complex case” … Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

THE Human Rights Commissioner, Catherine Branson, wants the federal government to pay $500,000 compensation and apologise to a Chinese man convicted of double murder who has been refused a visa.

The man, ”NK”, has been held in immigration detention at Villawood since his release from prison in 2006. He cannot be sent back to China because the Immigration Department believes there is a ”real risk” of him being tried again for the murders and executed.

”NK” left China in 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and entered Australia on a student visa.

He was convicted on two counts of murder three years later, and served 15 years of a 20-year sentence. Ms Branson said the State Parole Authority had found ”NK” suitable for community release in 2006, but federal immigration ministers would not place him in community detention. He was refused a protection visa because he fails the character test.

Ms Branson has accused the government of holding ”NK” in arbitrary detention. In 2007, ”NK” married a blind former Villawood detainee, whom he now wants to look after. The Immigration Department has refused to apologise to, or compensate, ”NK” because it says he is being detained lawfully.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the department was working to resolve a ”very complex case” – most likely by seeking his removal from Australia.

As in the case of the American Gabe Watson last year, Australia considers it would be in breach of international ”non-refoulement” obligations if it returns a person to a country where they face the death penalty or torture.

”There are complex issues regarding international obligations that have so far prevented the government from removal to the home country,” Mr Bowen’s spokesman said.

Parliament is debating toughening the character test, to make it easier to refuse a visa to asylum seekers who have been sentenced for a criminal offence.

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