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Tanzania: Tracing the human rights concerns at Petra Diamonds' subsidiary, incl. company's perspective

Williamson Diamond Mine in Mwadui, Tanzania

"How Petra Diamonds Ended Up in a Human Rights Mess"

Hans Merket, a researcher with the International Peace Information Service (IPIS), says he didn’t go into Tanzania expecting to learn about people getting hurt and killed. His group simply wanted to measure how mines were viewed by surrounding communities. But when they got to Mwadui, the area around the Williamson diamond mine, he kept hearing how mine security forces had taken violent action against purported trespassers on the mine area. There were reports of people being shot, stabbed, beaten, locked up, and killed...

In September 2020, U.K. law firm Leigh Day sued Petra on behalf of more than 30 Tanzanian nationals, charging a pattern of human rights abuses. Two months later, the NGO Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) issued a report that linked mine security to at least seven deaths and 41 assaults. In May, Petra agreed to a $6 million settlement with Leigh Day, whose list of claimants had swelled to 71. That number may grow even further, as another 25 claims are being investigated. And while the settlement included the standard “no admission of liability” from Petra, the miner’s statement went further than most in admitting that yes, things were bad. “Petra acknowledges that past incidents have taken place that regrettably resulted in the loss of life, injury, and the mistreatment of illegal diggers,” the company said in the statement. Petra also made public an independent report on the topic.