1409 Working Group news on Natural Resources -September 2014

  1. Africa: Tracing the Oil Money

 

From 2011 to 2013, the governments of [ten oil-producing African countries] sold over 2.3 billion barrels of oil. These sales, worth more than $250 billion, equal a staggering 56 percent of their combined government revenues. But there is little transparency about these sales, a quarter of which were made to little known Swiss trading companies. Payments of this scale that affect the development prospects of poor countries require public oversight. Transparency provides citizens with a tool to hold their government to account for the management of their country's most valuable asset. Oil-producing governments should adopt rules and practices that encourage integrity in the selection of buyers and determination of the selling price.

 

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  1. Botswana Government Lies Exposed As Diamond Mine Opens On Bushman Land

 

A $4.9bn diamond mine has been opened on September 5 in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the ancestral land of Africa's last hunting Bushmen, exactly ten years after the Botswana government claimed there were "no plans to mine anywhere inside the reserve." The government falsely claims that the Bushmen's presence in the reserve is "incompatible with wildlife conservation," while allowing a diamond mine and fracking exploration to go ahead on their land. The government continues its relentless push to drive the Bushmen out of the reserve by accusing them of "poaching" because they hunt their food. The Bushmen face arrest, beatings and torture. The government has also refused to reopen the Bushmen's water wells, restricted their free movement into and out of the reserve, and barred their lawyer from entering the country. 

 

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  1. How secret payments and violence helped UK firm open African national park to oil    

 

British oil company Soco International and its contractors have made illicit payments, appear to have paid off armed rebels and benefited from fear and violence fostered by government security forces in eastern Congo, as they sought access to Africa’s oldest national park for oil exploration. The shocking behaviour of one of the UK’s 200 largest public companies is laid bare in a new report released today by Global Witness. Activists and park rangers who criticised Soco’s operations have been arrested, and in some cases beaten or stabbed, by soldiers and intelligence agents supporting Soco's entry to the region. Some of these cases are described in our report and were also documented independently by Human Rights Watch in June this year.   

 

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