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Police Brutality Alleged Near Papua New Guinea Gold Mine

Amnesty International says police in Papua New Guinea have burnt down homes and illegally evicted people living near a mine owned by the world's largest gold mining company. In a new report Amnesty International calls on the government to investigate what they call "police brutality".

Shanta Martin is Amnesty International's mining and human rights specialist. She says the police used violence and intimidation to clear over 100 buildings.

"Between April and July of 2009, the police who were brought in to an area in the highlands of Papua New Guinea to deal with an increase in law and order problems burnt down villages that were right next door to the operations of the Porgera Gold Mines," said Martin.

The police force says those who have been evicted from their homes were living there illegally.

But Martin says no warning of eviction was given and she says the police used excessive brutality.

Amnesty says there is no evidence that Barrick Gold, which owns 95 percent of the mine, played any part in the evictions. But it says the mining company should end their support of the police, which through a subsidiary of Barrick Gold received accommodation, food and fuel.

And, Martin says the gold producer should have done more to investigate the forced evictions.

"Even having found that, and agreed that, there were evictions by the police right next door to the mine's facilities, within the special mining lease area and within sight of personnel who were working within the minds, neither Barrick Gold Corporation nor the Porgera Joint Venture has urged for an independent investigation by the authorities and quite frankly that's just not good enough," she said.

In a statement, Barrick Gold has said Amnesty International's research into Porgera is not objective and has not taken into account complicated social and legal issues on the ground.

Martin says the government must investigate the evictions and prosecute those responsible. And, she says moves should be made to help resettle those people who are still living within the mining area.

"There's also a need to have a look at whether or not the people who are currently living within the special mining lease area really ought to be relocated to an area outside that mine lease," said Martin.

The Porgera Gold Mine, located in Papua New Guinea's Enga Province, is one of Barrick Gold's largest mining operations.