Global Justice Clinic Calls for Transparency in the Development of Haiti’s Mining Sector

On July 24th, the Haitian media reported that Senator Hervé Fourcand submitted a draft mining law to Parliament for its consideration.  This law has not been made available to the public despite repeated requests made by GJC collaborator, the Kolektif Jistis Min (KJM), a collective of Haitian social movement organizations that support communities affected by metal mining.  The passage of the mining law would unlock the sector.  The law that currently governs mining in Haiti is seen as outdated, and considered the key obstacle to future metal mining.

In late August, GJC Haiti Project Director Ellie Happel and Oxfam America staff met with members of Congress and the State Department in Washington, D.C. The objective of the meetings in D.C. was to request that U.S. actors encourage the Haitian government to disclose the draft law and to hold a meaningful public debate about its content. Such a debate is crucial at this time, since Haiti does not yet have a modern mining industry, and the human rights and environmental risks attendant to the nascent sector are significant.  At the beginning of December, Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois submitted a letter to the President of Haiti’s Parliament, suggesting that he makes the draft law public and stating concerns about the human rights and environmental risks that mining poses. Four other members of Congress signed the letter.

The lack of access to information about Haiti’s mining sector is a longstanding problem.  In 2013, the Haitian Senate passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on mining, citing the “opacity” of information about the country’s mineral resources.  In 2015 GJC and KJM testified at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the situation of the right to access to information in Haiti.  The Commission found the testimony about the “existing obstacles to the exercise of the right of access to public information”—specifically in the context of mining—“troubling.”

GJC provides an extensive analysis of the draft mining law in its report co-authored with Hastings College of Law, Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile? Human Rights and Environmental Risks of Gold Mining in HaitiGJC found that this version of the draft law fails to adequately protect Haiti’s environment, violates the Haitian Constitution of 1987, and does not respect the rights of Haitian communities.  GJC created a brief analysis of the law to use in advocacy efforts.  GJC translated it into Kreyòl, and KJM similarly uses it in advocacy efforts in Haiti, including to inform radio interviews.

August 29, 2017.