A listed UK mining company, which was originally one of Queen Elizabeth’s most famous diamonds and markets itself as a producer of ethical gems, has been charged with a series of human rights violations man.
Petra Diamonds has been condemned by an activist group who say security guards at one of the company’s African mines killed seven local people and assaulted 41 others, leaving many “life-changing wounds “.
The company said it was investigating allegations made by UK NGO Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID).
The Williamson mine in Tanzania is famous for its pink diamonds. A stunning 54-carat rough diamond discovered there in 1947 was given as a wedding gift to the Queen by the owner of the mine. The diamond was then set in a Cartier flower brooch which the Queen wore on many important occasions, including the wedding of Charles and Diana. The Royal Collection describes the stone as “the most beautiful pink diamond ever discovered”.
The mine is 25% owned by the Tanzanian government and 75% by the UK mining company Petra Diamonds, which is listed on the London FTSE4GOOD ethical stock index and has regularly bragged in its annual reports that its policies and “Robust internal systems” mean that human rights violations are not considered a “significant risk” to its business.
“Such claims clearly appear to be false,” said RAID in its damning and comprehensive report, which details shocking accounts of a de facto private prison operated at the site, and of individuals “handcuffed to hospital beds at the site. mine medical establishment ”.
The alleged killings since 2009 involved six people who were shot, while a seventh was beaten to death. The 41 alleged assaults included 17 shots, with one of the injured men being shot 40 meters away as he fled. Many people interviewed in the report “are in need of medical treatment that they cannot afford” because of their injuries, RAID said.
Anneke van Woudenberg, executive director of RAID, told the Daily Beast in a telephone interview that while the disturbing stories coming out of the Williamson mine were “by no means the first time we have heard of working security guards. insanity “there were several disturbing features” of this investigation, including the fact that Petra Diamonds presents itself as an ethical company.
“The disjunction between what they say and what is really going on is striking,” she said.
She added: “We don’t normally see a business with its own detention center where people are kept in squalid and terrible conditions or a business running a hospital on site where they take people they’ve injured in their compound. and handcuffing them to beds and denying them medical treatment. When we first heard about it, we thought it couldn’t be true, but it is.
Van Woudenberg said the company claimed that the detention center was a police facility, but said, “We have strong evidence that this is not the case. We spoke to several people who have never seen the police. We asked to see documents proving this to be a police establishment, but none were provided.
Petra Diamonds, responding to questions from the Daily Beast asking them specifically to comment on the nature of the detention center or the alleged abuse at the mine hospital, said the detention center was now closed. They added that it “has never been used by the Tanzanian police other than as a temporary police station, and never used by the mine operator”.
Petra said the hospital is being modernized and is a service for workers and the local community.
Van Woudenberg said the Williamson mine appears to have grown accustomed to operating with impunity in part because of its legacy as a former colonial mine and the fact that the local town is located entirely on its land.
In a statement, Petra Diamonds said she was “working hard to address the allegations urgently … and an investigation has been opened and is being conducted by a specialist outside advisor in conjunction with the company’s lawyers.
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