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Amnesty criticises PNG police crackdown on illegal miners

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Police crackdowns on illegal miners in PNG have attracted strong criticism from Amnesty International, which has characterised police actions as “horrific”.

Police have burned down 200 homes in the Enga Province, near the Barrick-owned Porgera gold mine.

An Australian man attempting to photograph the incident was injured in a violent clash that followed the police attack.

Amnesty International Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze said the tactic, which police said was intended to target illegal miners, was excessive and constituted horrific and unjustifiable acts which have left many people homeless.

“That's not really a solution to any of these issues,” she said.

“You certainly don't solve it by burning down people's homes and what we're seeing is this 'tit for tat' sort of response which is entirely inappropriate for a credible police force.

“There needs to be proper investigation into what's happening and those people responsible need to be held accountable, so if there are accusations that people have acted unlawfully by engaging in illicit mining activities then that needs to go through a justice process the same as the accusations of sexual assault, the accusations of violence and the accusations of burnt down homes.”

Scheutze said there have been a number of human rights violations against villagers in the area, including sexual assault by security contractors.

Local MP Nixon Mangape said hundreds of families had been left homeless as a result of the police raid.

It was claimed the houses burnt belonged to local landowners from the Tiene tribe.

Mangape called on both Barrick and the PNG government to provide compensation for the burnt houses.

“This is the second time this village was burnt down. The first one was done during the first state of emergency call out operation some six years ago which never solved the problem,” Mangape said.

“Why is Barrick not looking at long term solutions like relocating the people out of the special mining lease area? Burning houses in a particular village in the special mining lease area will not solve the illegal mining problem. It’s adding more fuel to a burning fire.”

Image: ABC

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