10 Feb 2011

Victims of rape at PNG mine often afraid to speak out, says landowner

2:52 pm on 10 February 2011

A landowner from the Porgera goldmine area in Papua New Guinea's Enga province says many of the people abused by the mine's security guards fear retribution if they speak out.

The comment from Mark Ekepa of the Porgera Landowners Association follows the sacking of five local employees by Canadian multi national miner, Barrick Gold, over alleged abuses against villagers, including pack rapes.

Dozens of women say they were beaten, tortured or raped by members of Porgera Joint Venture's 450-strong private security force in abuses dating to 2008.

Mr Ekepa says the victims are not illegal miners but local villagers.

"'The ones we know, we lodge complaints to the police department. But some still are hidden - they [victims] are afraid of getting arrested and all these things. They never come to us to lodge the complaint. So many rapes were done but some are hidden by themselves. They ever come out to the publicand release their statements to us so therefore... it's an ongoing thing."

Mark Ekepa