Petra Diamonds’ attempts to come clean with its tarnished past in Tanzania

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Challenges in securing access to remedy and restoring community relations after serious human rights abuse at the Williamson diamond mine 

This report assesses the efforts by Petra Diamonds to restore community relations and remediate the legacy of serious human rights abuse at its Williamson diamond mine in Tanzania. 

The Williamson Diamonds mine, adjacent villages and the neighbouring El-Hilal Minerals

In 2021, Petra reached a multi-million-pound settlement, following a claim filed in the UK High Court, with 96 alleged Tanzanian victims of beatings, torture, illegal detention, indiscriminate shootings, sexual violence and killings. Petra committed to compensation for victims, community development projects and the establishment of a grievance mechanism to remedy additional harms. Petra has since relinquished its majority stake in Williamson Diamonds – held since 2009 – though still maintains a notable shareholding.

IPIS undertook extensive field research, over 120 interviews with local residents, civil society and local authority actors, and engagements with key stakeholders, including Petra. This served to assess how this settlement is perceived by and impacts upon residents of villages adjacent to the Williamson mine. The report covers a diversity of issues: 

  • How could the human rights situation around the mine get so badly out of hand?

  • What is being done to avoid this from happening again?

  • What efforts are made to promote alternative livelihoods and engage with artisanal miners?

  • How were these efforts impacted by the November 2022 tailing dam breach that released a massive mud flow on several villages?

  • How does the new security arrangement balance the protection of the concession with respecting human rights? 

  • What efforts are made to provide equitable access to remedy and fair redress to all victims of human rights abuse and other grievances; and how effective are these?

The overarching conclusion is that Petra and Williamson Diamonds have taken important steps to come clean with the troubled past. They have started bridging the huge detachment of the mine from adjacent communities that allowed the situation to get so badly out of hand before. Yet, our research shows that only continuing to improve their understanding of and responsiveness to the concerns and needs of local residents will allow implementing the well-intended initiatives with optimal effect.  This will be crucial to ensuring that potential abuses do not once again linger under the radar to escalate, and to ensuring that Petra lives up to its claims of responsible business practice and ethically mined diamonds.

On this basis, IPIS formulates a number of specific recommendations to improve community relations, minimise harm and ensure access to effective remedy. These are in the first place of relevance to Petra and Williamson Diamonds, but also include important considerations for other key stakeholders such as Synergy, Leigh Day, the IGM staff and independent monitors, PwC, national and local Tanzanian authorities and the mining sector at large.

IPIS was not granted permission to publish Petra’s response letter, dated 24 August 2023, with answers to a number of the questions raised by IPIS (see Annex 1 and Annex 2) in full. 

Petra’s public response to our report, which followed several exchanges since August 2023, can be found in Annex 4.


Annex 1: IPIS’ letter to Petra, dated 19 July 2023.

Annex 2: IPIS’ list of questions to Petra, dated 19 July 2023.

Annex 3: IPIS’ letter to GardaWorld West Security Limited Tanzania, dated 19 September 2023.

Annex 4: Petra Diamonds’ public response to the report, dated 8 November 2023.

Annex 5: IPIS’ response to Petra, dated 21 November 2023.

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union and Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD). The contents can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union or the Belgian Development Cooperation.