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The Nuance of a Fictitious HRW Mining Report

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Interestingly, the very men and women invited from the various media to paint the report to create national uproar or rather misgivings, were the first to point at the holes within the deliberately crafted work of the whosoever researchers of the report and out-rightly debunked the claims against the main victim of this fiendish attack- AML.

The irony of it all during the presentation of the report at the Civil Service Training College was the pronouncement by the researcher, Rona Peligal, that the research was her first. But the question people may want to ask is were the people she chose to carry out the research honest to the job? Was the research carried out by armchair researchers? Is the HRW, known for their patience in gathering information, becoming questionable?

Indeed the intentions of HRW are often to look at rights violation and abuse to help in the processes of development but then in the processes of carrying out a research vital stakeholders should be contacted and issues raised so that clarifications could have been made so that the conclusion of the report will get the support of all, thus availing it to be accepted and adopted as an important tool in the implementation of policies in the processes of governance.

HRW in their presentation states: “Human Rights Watch interviewed close to 100 people in Sierra Leone for the report, and researched the operations of African Minerals Limited over an 18-month period, beginning in July 2012. Human Rights Watch met with the company’s leadership in February 2013, and corresponded with these directors until their departure from the firm in August. In January 2014, Human Rights Watch wrote to the company’s new management to update findings and request information, but has received no reply.”

One critical lapse of this statement is the clause ‘Human Rights Watch interviewed close to 100 people in Sierra Leone for the report’.., because in research work qualitative and quantitative analysis of events, time, people, environment and gender are vital to making a report objective and credible. But unfortunately, the HRW woman said … “close to 100 people in Sierra Leone”; that’s supposedly about 60. Interestingly the police boss, Inspector General of Police Francis Munu, was shocked at the claim that police personnel were interviewed.

“I will find it very difficult but I don’t normally quarrel with opinions of people because you have many opinions to voice out. As far as I am concern this report is not a research piece but the opinion of a single individual,” the IG said disappointingly.

The IG will indeed be disappointed especially so at a time when some Sierra Leoneans are looking for opportunities to put the image of the country to disrepute. The IG was embittered, and found it difficult to comprehend the intentions of the researchers, whose report woefully failed to get the support of the people claimed to have responded to the interviews like the Paramount Chief of Kalasongia Chiefdom, A.B.Y. Koroma, who described the report as misleading and a character assassination of his person.

“When I was given the report to read in the hall it took me two minutes to pick out the inaccuracies of the report. If I get more time to look at it I will just throw away the report in the dust bin,” he said angrily.

Could people imagine, a research that is supposed to cover the rights violation of people living in a mining community ended up to be spited by the very people that were allegedly said to have responded to the questionnaire. But then HRW was quick to contact the OGI for collaboration to make public their findings without doing a conclusive analysis of the procedures utilized in gathering the information, the people targeted and their authenticity to the claims recorded as reflections of the violations perpetrated by a company on a people in a particular district in Sierra Leone.

The 96-page report, caption: “Whose Development?: Human Rights Abuses in Sierra Leone’s Mining Boom,”, according to HRW, “documents how the government and London-based African Minerals Limited forcibly relocated hundreds of families from verdant slopes to a flat, arid area in Tonkolili District.”

The report claimed residents lost their ability to cultivate crops and engage in income generating activities that once sustained them. It also said police carried out a bloody crackdown in the town of Bumbuna in April 2012 to quell a protest by workers who went on strike after being barred from forming a union of their own choosing.

This is the nuance of a fictitious HRW mining report which deliberately failed to get the response of major stakeholders to clarify such serious allegations before coming out with such a bogus misleading report. It is misleading because almost all those claimed to have responded are denying the document. And according to the statement “…Human Rights Watch met with the company’s leadership in February 2013, and corresponded with these directors until their departure from the firm in August. In January 2014, Human Rights Watch wrote to the company’s new management to update findings and request information, but has received no reply.”

How on earth can HRW say they were unable to get the response of an entity they are investigating on issues of such human interest nature and issues which the Government of Sierra Leone is doing all it could to control and stop impunity of violations by the mining sector in Sierra Leone. HRW gets the wherewithal to get the response of the company which presence can be traced in Sierra Leone and in London. Unfortunately, HRW claimed none of these could be reached, thus their justification to come out public and roping the police and Paramount Chief of responding to their questionnaire!

Indeed, as indicated by the HRW, the government of President Ernest Koroma, re-elected in 2012, is aggressively pursuing an “Agenda for Prosperity,” supported by bilateral donors, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and corporations attracted by the country’s mineral riches and fertile land. The strategy has yielded high rates of growth; in 2012, Sierra Leone’s economy grew by 21 percent, the fastest in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the IMF.

This growth can only be sustained with every Sierra Leonean to benefit if all of us stand by the Government and support development projects for the betterment of the state. And though we are ranked as one of the poorest in the world for many years, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index; yet we cannot continue to wallow in that position thus our desire for progress and reason for the support of the operations of African Minerals by all Sierra Leoneans and want this company to grow. And for few people to sit in a corner and grudgingly draft a report to paint the image of this country negative in the guise of HRW is unfortunate and disgraceful!

The Government’s approach to issues of violations in mining communities over the years and even now is proactive through efforts of the National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society and the Office of the Ombudsman. The HRW researchers should have better consulted these major stakeholders to get their own views on issues of violations and mining so that at the end of the day they would have put together a well researched credible report for public consumption. Unfortunately, it seems the intention of the report was to stab the back of the Government and not African Minerals.

African Minerals, since it started operations in Sierra Leone, has already helped build and fund various schools and is awarding thousands of scholarships as well as creating employment opportunities and is making a significant effort to hire locals; approximately 75% of its thousands of employees are Sierra Leoneans.

African Minerals is not only looking at providing employment opportunities, educational opportunities and community development projects, the company also include a partnership with ProtoPharma to produce, test and obtain regulatory support for a new age malaria drug; a project to build the infrastructure to provide affordable and clean drinking water everywhere the company operates, particularly in Tonkolili and Pepel; sponsorships of local football leagues; and business incubators, one of which will introduce more efficient methods to the local farmers to act as food suppliers to African Minerals.

The operations of African Minerals is demonstrating Sierra Leone’s potential and that Sierra Leone has changed, that it has a pro business government, a wealth of investment opportunities and friendly people. Therefore, doesn’t want people to come into the country and try to create a situation that will delay us in reaching our mandate of making this country a better stakeholder in world development.

I pity Rona Peligal and believed she would by now be regretting her decision to trust the people she thought will do a good job for her. Their failure to report exactly what the Paramount Chief said, their failure to engage the police, the Government and the company is reason for her tears; at most especially, the inconclusive quantitative analysis of the subjects interviewed and their status to the issue concern are major failures by HRW to have identified and rectified.

The Nuance of a Fictitious HRW Mining Report

By Alpha Bedoh Kamara

 

While the country is coping and striving to overcome challenges left behind by an irrational decade old war caused by few individuals and their backers to perpetrate mayhem against the people of this nation, again comes this year, a report by the Human Rights Watch with support from the OGI, supposedly, intended to misinform the public against the operations of African Minerals Sierra Leone Ltd (AML).

Interestingly, the very men and women invited from the various media to paint the report to create national uproar or rather misgivings, were the first to point at the holes within the deliberately crafted work of the whosoever researchers of the report and out-rightly debunked the claims against the main victim of this fiendish attack- AML.

The irony of it all during the presentation of the report at the Civil Service Training College was the pronouncement by the researcher, Rona Peligal, that the research was her first. But the question people may want to ask is were the people she chose to carry out the research honest to the job? Was the research carried out by armchair researchers? Is the HRW, known for their patience in gathering information, becoming questionable?

Indeed the intentions of HRW are often to look at rights violation and abuse to help in the processes of development but then in the processes of carrying out a research vital stakeholders should be contacted and issues raised so that clarifications could have been made so that the conclusion of the report will get the support of all, thus availing it to be accepted and adopted as an important tool in the implementation of policies in the processes of governance.

HRW in their presentation states: “Human Rights Watch interviewed close to 100 people in Sierra Leone for the report, and researched the operations of African Minerals Limited over an 18-month period, beginning in July 2012. Human Rights Watch met with the company’s leadership in February 2013, and corresponded with these directors until their departure from the firm in August. In January 2014, Human Rights Watch wrote to the company’s new management to update findings and request information, but has received no reply.”

One critical lapse of this statement is the clause ‘Human Rights Watch interviewed close to 100 people in Sierra Leone for the report’.., because in research work qualitative and quantitative analysis of events, time, people, environment and gender are vital to making a report objective and credible. But unfortunately, the HRW woman said … “close to 100 people in Sierra Leone”; that’s supposedly about 60. Interestingly the police boss, Inspector General of Police Francis Munu, was shocked at the claim that police personnel were interviewed.

“I will find it very difficult but I don’t normally quarrel with opinions of people because you have many opinions to voice out. As far as I am concern this report is not a research piece but the opinion of a single individual,” the IG said disappointingly.

The IG will indeed be disappointed especially so at a time when some Sierra Leoneans are looking for opportunities to put the image of the country to disrepute. The IG was embittered, and found it difficult to comprehend the intentions of the researchers, whose report woefully failed to get the support of the people claimed to have responded to the interviews like the Paramount Chief of Kalasongia Chiefdom, A.B.Y. Koroma, who described the report as misleading and a character assassination of his person.

“When I was given the report to read in the hall it took me two minutes to pick out the inaccuracies of the report. If I get more time to look at it I will just throw away the report in the dust bin,” he said angrily.

Could people imagine, a research that is supposed to cover the rights violation of people living in a mining community ended up to be spited by the very people that were allegedly said to have responded to the questionnaire. But then HRW was quick to contact the OGI for collaboration to make public their findings without doing a conclusive analysis of the procedures utilized in gathering the information, the people targeted and their authenticity to the claims recorded as reflections of the violations perpetrated by a company on a people in a particular district in Sierra Leone.

The 96-page report, caption: “Whose Development?: Human Rights Abuses in Sierra Leone’s Mining Boom,”, according to HRW, “documents how the government and London-based African Minerals Limited forcibly relocated hundreds of families from verdant slopes to a flat, arid area in Tonkolili District.”

The report claimed residents lost their ability to cultivate crops and engage in income generating activities that once sustained them. It also said police carried out a bloody crackdown in the town of Bumbuna in April 2012 to quell a protest by workers who went on strike after being barred from forming a union of their own choosing.

This is the nuance of a fictitious HRW mining report which deliberately failed to get the response of major stakeholders to clarify such serious allegations before coming out with such a bogus misleading report. It is misleading because almost all those claimed to have responded are denying the document. And according to the statement “…Human Rights Watch met with the company’s leadership in February 2013, and corresponded with these directors until their departure from the firm in August. In January 2014, Human Rights Watch wrote to the company’s new management to update findings and request information, but has received no reply.”

How on earth can HRW say they were unable to get the response of an entity they are investigating on issues of such human interest nature and issues which the Government of Sierra Leone is doing all it could to control and stop impunity of violations by the mining sector in Sierra Leone. HRW gets the wherewithal to get the response of the company which presence can be traced in Sierra Leone and in London. Unfortunately, HRW claimed none of these could be reached, thus their justification to come out public and roping the police and Paramount Chief of responding to their questionnaire!

Indeed, as indicated by the HRW, the government of President Ernest Koroma, re-elected in 2012, is aggressively pursuing an “Agenda for Prosperity,” supported by bilateral donors, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and corporations attracted by the country’s mineral riches and fertile land. The strategy has yielded high rates of growth; in 2012, Sierra Leone’s economy grew by 21 percent, the fastest in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the IMF.

This growth can only be sustained with every Sierra Leonean to benefit if all of us stand by the Government and support development projects for the betterment of the state. And though we are ranked as one of the poorest in the world for many years, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index; yet we cannot continue to wallow in that position thus our desire for progress and reason for the support of the operations of African Minerals by all Sierra Leoneans and want this company to grow. And for few people to sit in a corner and grudgingly draft a report to paint the image of this country negative in the guise of HRW is unfortunate and disgraceful!

The Government’s approach to issues of violations in mining communities over the years and even now is proactive through efforts of the National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society and the Office of the Ombudsman. The HRW researchers should have better consulted these major stakeholders to get their own views on issues of violations and mining so that at the end of the day they would have put together a well researched credible report for public consumption. Unfortunately, it seems the intention of the report was to stab the back of the Government and not African Minerals.

African Minerals, since it started operations in Sierra Leone, has already helped build and fund various schools and is awarding thousands of scholarships as well as creating employment opportunities and is making a significant effort to hire locals; approximately 75% of its thousands of employees are Sierra Leoneans.

African Minerals is not only looking at providing employment opportunities, educational opportunities and community development projects, the company also include a partnership with ProtoPharma to produce, test and obtain regulatory support for a new age malaria drug; a project to build the infrastructure to provide affordable and clean drinking water everywhere the company operates, particularly in Tonkolili and Pepel; sponsorships of local football leagues; and business incubators, one of which will introduce more efficient methods to the local farmers to act as food suppliers to African Minerals.

The operations of African Minerals is demonstrating Sierra Leone’s potential and that Sierra Leone has changed, that it has a pro business government, a wealth of investment opportunities and friendly people. Therefore, doesn’t want people to come into the country and try to create a situation that will delay us in reaching our mandate of making this country a better stakeholder in world development.

I pity Rona Peligal and believed she would by now be regretting her decision to trust the people she thought will do a good job for her. Their failure to report exactly what the Paramount Chief said, their failure to engage the police, the Government and the company is reason for her tears; at most especially, the inconclusive quantitative analysis of the subjects interviewed and their status to the issue concern are major failures by HRW to have identified and rectified.

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