Dar es Salaam, November 24, 2003
The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance today issued an order of interim injunction [pdf] against the Afrika Mashariki Gold Mine (AMGM), its Canadian parent company Placer Dome and three officials in Tarime District. The order seeks to prevent them from carrying on a campaign intended to force Nyangoto village residents in Nyabirama area to accept inadequate compensation from the two companies. Also ordered to stop this campaign are the Tarime District Commissioner Paschal Mabiti, District Land Valuation Officer David Magabe and AMGM's Public Relations Officer John Bosco Mbusiro.
The villagers had alleged that the three officials have in the past month carried out a campaign of intimidation and victimization against them by threatening to lock them up if they did not accept the company's offer of compensation. For its part, AMGM is alleged to be carrying out blasting operations as well as dumping thousands of tons of waste rock near the villagers' homes thus causing damage to houses and threatening the health and general well-being of the villagers.
Early last week, representatives of the villagers traveled to Dar es Salaam to register their complaints with the Commission. With the assistance of their advocates from the Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT), on Tuesday November 18 some 60 affected villagers requested the Commission to issue the injunction order to stop the five respondents from carrying on with the intimidation campaign. The Commission has full legal powers to issue such orders under section 25(d) of the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance Act No. 7 of 2001.
LEAT described today's decision as historic. "It is a ground-breaking decision", stated Tundu Lissu, LEAT's Coordinator for Mining, Environment and Human Rights Program, who served as lead counsel for the villagers. Mr. Lissu added: "For the first time since its establishment three years ago, the Human Rights Commission has exercised its legal and constitutional powers to order illegal acts to stop." According to LEAT's acting Executive Director Vincent Shauri, the Commission's order will send a very powerful signal that the Commission means business. "The Commission's message to human rights violators is loud and clear: stop your illegal acts or else face the Commission's wrath. This decision will transform human rights litigation before the Commission for a long time to come."
LEAT expressed its hope that the companies and authorities concerned will this time abide by the decision of the Human Rights Commission. Said Lissu: "The memory of what happened at Bulyanhulu in August 1996 where the authorities blatantly ignored the injunction order of the High Court of Tanzania is still too painfully fresh. We hope that good judgment and common sense will prevail this time in order to prevent a repeat of the bloody events that occurred at Bulyanhulu that fateful August 1996."
For More Information:
For more information on this case please contact:
Mr. Tundu A.M. Lissu, Coordinator
Mining, Environment and Human Rights Program
Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT)
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania