Haitian Communities File Complaint about World Bank-Supported Mining Law

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

Haitian Communities File Complaint about World Bank-Supported Mining Law

Sound Alarm about Lack of Participation, Environmental and Social Protections

Haitian communities and organizations filed a complaint with the World Bank regarding Bank-supported activities to develop Haiti’s mining sector today.The complaint has been submitted to the World Bank Inspection Panel, an independent office that investigates allegations by people who claim to have experienced harm or who fear future harm as a result of World Bank projects. The complaint alleges that the Haitian populace has been left out of World Bank-funded efforts by the Haitian government to draft new mining legislation intended to attract foreign investors to exploit Haiti’s gold and other minerals. Complainants contend that the Bank has failed to follow its own social and environmental safeguard policies or ensure that the new legal framework adheres to international best practices. They fear that allowing the mineral sector to develop without much-needed human rights and environmental protections and without public consultation could harm rather than help Haiti. The complaint can be read in English and French.

“The mining law will attract investment from foreign mining companies and yet the government does not have the ability to monitor environmental impacts or to promote the interests of the affected communities,” said Nixon Boumba, a representative of the Kolektif Jistis Min (Mining Justice Collective), a group of six Haitian organizations and dozens of communities who filed the complaint. Haitian people who have had the chance to learn about the government’s efforts to develop the sector share serious reservations about the new mining law and the broader effort to encourage mining: over 400 people in Haiti have signed a petition stating their concerns with mining sector development and demanding access to accurate information about mining and its potential impacts on Haitian people and the well-being of the country. The petition also requests a national debate and a full, public review of this strategy before the proposed mining legislation is finalized.

Some communities in Haiti have already had negative experiences with companies exploring for minerals on or near their land. “We have seen impacts that make us worry,” explained a complainant and community leader from northern Haiti. “People who have begun to understand what mining could mean, what an open-pit mine is, they are worried about how it will affect the environment and the way we live now.” Communities also claim that companies have already drilled and excavated on their land without seeking proper consent.
Complainants also fear the consequences of encouraging mining without ensuring the Haitian government’s ability to enforce social and environmental protections. The government has suffered from inadequate resources and failed regulatory processes for years, and the country’s recent protests and governmental instability underscore ongoing capacity issues.[1] “The World Bank is backing a law to promote investment in mining at a time of growing political turmoil,” said Professor Margaret Satterthwaite of the New York University School of Law Global Justice Clinic, which represents affected Haitian communities. “It would be irresponsible to open up the sector in the context of such governmental instability and without a full analysis of its impacts.”

“The World Bank’s assistance aims to change the entire legal regime for mineral mining in Haiti,” said Sarah Singh of Accountability Counsel, an organization representing affected Haitian communities. “Given the serious social and environmental risks associated with this industry, the Bank must ensure that the new law is developed with participation from civil society and includes provisions to protect human rights and adhere to international best practices.”

This post was originally published as a press release on January 7, 2015. 

World Bank Refuses to Consider Haitian Communities’ Complaint about New Mining Law

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

World Bank Refuses to Consider Haitian Communities’ Complaint about New Mining Law

Complaint Office Recognizes “Legitimate” Concerns, Rejects Complaint on Technical Grounds

Last week, the World Bank Inspection Panel refused to consider a complaint from Haitian communities about the Bank’s support for development of the mining sector in Haiti.  Communities affected by mining activity and the Justice in Mining Collective, a group of six Haitian civil society organizations, submitted the complaint in early January, alleging violations of their rights to information and participation and threats of human rights abuses and environmental harms.  The Inspection Panel—an office established to address complaints from people affected by World Bank-sponsored projects—recognized that the complaint raised “serious and legitimate” concerns and that the mining industry presents significant risks.  The office nevertheless denied the complaint on narrow, technical grounds.  The complainants expect to receive a copy of the decision in French today.[1]

Communities’ concerns about the development of the mining industry stem in part from their experiences with mineral exploration to date.  Farmers report that they have lost crops and watched fertile land turn barren; they allege that companies have entered and operated in their communities without seeking permission; and they contend that they have nowhere to bring their concerns.  Now, the World Bank’s complaint office has declared that it will not investigate their grievances.  “For the Panel to recognize that our concerns are legitimate and yet refuse to register the case, it is as if the lives of Haitian people do not matter to the World Bank,” said Peterson Derolus, Co-Coordinator of the Justice in Mining Collective.

The farmers and families in rural communities where mining companies have explored for gold have been systematically excluded from conversations about the mining industry.  In 2014, the World Bank crafted a new mining law in close consultation with mining company executives and Haitian government authorities.  The reforms largely have taken place behind closed doors.  “To date, even Parliament has been excluded from the process of drafting the new law,” Derolus said. “But the Haitian Constitution states that mineral resources belong to the State, meaning not only the government, but also the Haitian people.”

The World Bank’s own policies normally require it to ensure transparency and meaningful public consultation and to adhere to environmental and social standards in all its operations.  The Inspection Panel found that those safeguards do not apply to the “Bank-Executed Trust Fund” used to finance the revision of Haiti’s mining law, even though they do apply to similar Bank projects funded in different ways.  Noting this inconsistency, the Panel called for reforms to ensure that the Bank applies its safeguards to technical assistance projects like this one based on the risk of environmental and social harm, rather than the particular financing mechanism used.

“The World Bank is providing assistance that will change the entire legal regime for mineral mining in Haiti.  It chose to do so in a way that exempts the project from the Bank’s own safeguard policies, including those that require community participation,” said Sarah Singh of Accountability Counsel, an organization representing affected Haitian communities.  “The Bank should not have discretion to avoid community complaints regarding a project that poses such clear human rights and environmental risks.”

The risks are particularly acute today in Haiti—a country known for its devastated environment, poor infrastructure, and lack of rule of law—as the state is in the midst of a major political crisis.  Since January, President Martelly has ruled by decree.  Parliament, which had objected to the way the Executive was developing the mining industry, has been dissolved.  The past few weeks have seen increasing protests and multiple days of nationwide transit strikes.  “We call on the World Bank to recognize the grave risks it incurs in developing the mining industry in Haiti and to endorse a moratorium on mining until a meaningful national debate is held and other community demands have been met,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, Director of the Global Justice Clinic, which represents affected Haitian communities.  “If the Bank-backed mining law is passed by decree, Haiti will be open to the gold mining business without the consent of its people.”

[1] The World Bank’s complaint office, the Inspection Panel, is an independent office that investigates allegations by people who claim to have experienced harm or who fear future harms as a result of World Bank projects. The Notice of Non-Registration is available in English. The Panel indicated that the Notice of Non-Registration would be made available in French on February 17, 2015.  The complaint is also available in English and in French.

This post was originally published as a press release on February 17, 2015. 

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

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

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. 

GJC Partners in Haiti and Guyana Testify Before IACHR on Detriment of Extractive Industry in the Caribbean

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

GJC Partners in Haiti and Guyana Testify Before IACHR on Detriment of Extractive Industry in the Caribbean

On October 26, 2021, advocates and experts from five Caribbean countries, Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas, presented on the impact of extractive industry activities on human rights and climate change in the Caribbean in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Samuel Nesner, a founding member of Kolektif Jistis Min and long-time partner of NYU Law’s Global Justice Clinic, presented on the serious harm of extraction and land grabs in Haiti to the human rights of rural communities. Another Global Justice Clinic partner and member of the South Rupununi District Council, Immaculata Casimero, presented on the impact of extractive industries on indigenous women.

Samuel Nesner highlighted that for centuries land in Haiti has been expropriated and transferred to the elite with rural communities facing the brunt of the harm. Repeated expropriation of land, also known as land grabbing, has forced farmers and their families from their land, many times under threat of violence and almost always without adequate compensation for the loss of their land and sole source of income. Many believe that the land grabs relate to the content of the soil: much of the area that has been taken from farmers in the rural North is known for its mineral resources. Between 2006 and 2013, the Haitian government granted four U.S. and Canadian companies more than 50 mining permits. Many were granted in flagrant violation of Haitian law, without consultation of the dozen communities who live on the land under permit, and without first conducting an adequate environmental and social impact assessment. Residents of these communities have reported that company representatives entered their land without permission, taking samples and digging holes in their farmland. 

Immaculata Casimero noted that extractive industries pose a particular danger to indigenous peoples, who face longstanding land tenure insecurity. In Immaculata’s own Wapichan territory, many traditional indigenous lands are left unrecognized by the Guyanese government—and therefore vulnerable to big businesses looking to obtain agricultural leases on their land and extractive industries seeking to mine gold from their land. Immaculata emphasized that allowing mining on indigenous land harms their cultural heritage and way of life, and that women are especially affected as the main conveyors and protectors of this cultural heritage. Mining not only damages cultural heritage, but also the community’s health: it has led to mercury poisoning by contaminating crucial headwaters and has compounded the effects of climate change, with flooding, lower crop yields, and higher food insecurity. The presence of new miners has also raised social concerns, such as an increase in gender-based violence and prostitution.

Following the speakers’ presentations, IACHR Commissioners commended the speakers on their efforts to address the urgent issue of the impact of extractive industries in the Caribbean. IACHR Commissioner Margaret May Macauley (Jamaica) expressed her concern about the “complete lack of prior information and prior consultation before the majority, if not all, of these extractive industries commence. That is, the governments of these States enter into contracts with the corporations without prior information to the peoples who reside in the lands, on the lands, or by the seas, and they do not engage in prior consultation with them… The persons are left completely unprotected.” This certainly rings true in Haiti and Guyana, where foreign companies have repeatedly profited off the land of Haitian farmers and the Wapichan people without prior consultation about the use of their land.

February 14, 2022. 

Rhetoric vs Record: Communities Call out Barrick for Falling Short on Human Rights

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

Rhetoric vs Record: Communities Call out Barrick for Falling Short on Human Rights

Representatives of communities impacted by Barrick Gold’s mining operations claim the company systemically ignores their concerns. Despite President and CEO Mark Bristow’s claim that “recognizing and respecting human rights have long been a fundamental value” for the company, people living near Barrick operations in the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Pakistan, and the United States tell a different story.

As Barrick prepares for its Annual General Meeting on May 2nd, frontline communities are launching a Week of Action from April 11-16 calling out the gap between Barrick’s rhetoric and record. They claim oppressive violence, perpetual water pollution, violations of Indigenous Rights, and destroyed livelihoods. Their experiences call Barrick’ social license to operate into question.

These community leaders are calling on Barrick to turn its rhetoric into reality: to listen to their demands, act transparently, and remedy the harms they have already experienced. Below are their statements.

“Barrick’s proposed Donlin Gold mine puts the Yup’ik and Cup’ik ways of life in harm’s way for the rest of time. Our people rely on our river and fish for food security and risking contamination with toxic slurries stands against our traditional values, which is shown with wide Tribal opposition to the Donlin project. I encourage Barrick to revoke their investment in Donlin Gold and the exploratory efforts 35 miles away. Barrick and partners do not have a social license or a relationship with the Tribes and it is important to understand for-profit Native corporations do not represent our people. Barrick does not have our consent.”

Statements

“Barrick has spilled toxic chemicals into the water of the Jáchal River multiple times, while operating in the heart of the San Guillermo Biosphere Reserve, an ecologically sensitive area. They have not been transparent about their impacts, which violates our democratic institutions. The solution is for the company to leave.”

“We have been calling for more than 20 years for justice for the people of the Island of Marinduque whose lives and livelihoods continue to be affected by the contamination of our rivers and marine areas from almost 30 years of irresponsible mining. Barrick is fighting us in our courts rather than providing the compensation we need to do the clean-up ourselves. Marinduqueños have waited long enough, it is time that Barrick lives up to its claims of being a responsible company and takes responsibility for the mess left behind in Marinduque.”

“We have never stopped advocating for justice for the many men, women, and children who have become the victims of the Porgera Joint Venture mine, through the pollution of our rivers, through the house burnings by mine security and police, and through the rapes and killings and beatings of our Ipili and Engan Indigenous people by mine security and police. We oppose Barrick reopening the mine until all the victims of Porgera Joint Venture have been fairly compensated and until we know that Barrick will clean up the mine waste that surrounds our houses.”

“Last December, Barrick Gold reached an unlawful agreement with the central government of Pakistan to extract gold and copper from the Reko Diq mining site. The locals in Balochistan, especially the locals surrounding the mining sites in Chaghi District, did not consent to this project. This violation not only threatens the region’s autonomy and environment but also exacerbates the difficulties already faced by the suppressed local population. Barrick Gold must disclose every detail of the agreement to the masses and the media, and stop working until the local people approve the project.”

“Barrick says they bring progress, but we are one of the poorest provinces in the country, even though we live next to one of the largest gold mines in the world. In 2012, Barrick Gold built the El Llagal tailings dam at the Pueblo Viejo mine. Twenty-one streams have dried up and the project has impacted two principal rivers, the Llagal and the Maguaca. Now, we receive drinking water from the government. We want to ask: if the company is allowed to destroy the streams and rivers that provided water to six communities, why hasn’t there been any efforts to relocate us to another area without all of the pollution and with access to water?”

“The environmental impacts generated by Barrick Gold have been devastating culturally and spiritually for the Western Shoshone, and yet the company claims to ensure responsible mining practices that respects, protects, and preserves our cultural heritage. Barrick’s attempt to mitigate for the protection and preservation of Western Shoshone cultural heritage is to provide funding to assist with establishing a cultural center and language program, funding support for local cultural activities, and trips for the elders to attend other cultural gatherings. This may all sound and look good but is it? Eventually, Western Shoshone people will become totally dependent on funding from an industry that sets out to destroy our homelands. There is no long-term benefit in the destruction of our land and culture.”

In addition to the statements above, Tanzanian Kuria peoples from villages surrounding the North Mara Gold Mine are currently in court in both the UK and Canada claiming excess use of force by mine security and police guarding the mine leading to deaths and maimings.

This post was originally published as a press release on April 11, 2023. 

The Global Justice Clinic partners with social movements and community organizations to prevent, challenge, and redress economic, racial, and climate injustice, while training the next generation of social justice lawyers. Statements of the Global Justice Clinic do not purport to represent the views of NYU, if any.

Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.

MiningWatch Canada works toward a world in which Indigenous peoples can effectively exercise their rights to self-determination, communities must consent before any mining activities may occur, mineworkers are guaranteed safe and healthy conditions and there is effective access to justice and reparations for mining harms.

Press Release: Civil Society and Downstream Users to Barrick: No Dominican Republic Expansion

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

Civil Society and Downstream Users to Barrick: No Dominican Republic Expansion

Open letters from 88 organizations and 15 jewelry producers highlight the human rights, environmental, and climate consequences of proposed gold mine expansion 

Today 88 organizations from more than 21 countries released a letter calling on the Dominican Republic and Barrick Gold Corporation to stop the proposed expansion of the Pueblo Viejo gold mine, while more than a dozen jewelry producers joined a parallel letter echoing civil society’s concerns. The letters raise serious concerns over threats to local communities’ rights and the risk of significant environmental damage. They question whether the government and the company will be able to fulfill their promises to promote sustainability and climate resilience if the mine expansion is allowed to continue.

The Pueblo Viejo mine, about 100km outside Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (DR), is one of the largest gold mines in the Americas. Barrick is looking to exploit lower-grade ore by expanding its processing plant and mine waste storage facilities. This would reportedly extend the life of the mine into 2040.

Affected communities and local organizations in the Dominican Republic have come out in opposition to the expansion, local politicians and experts have criticized the risks of the proposed tailings dam, and religious leaders have raised the alarm about the expansion. According to Heriberta Fernandez from the Centro de Reflexión y Acción Padre Juan Montalvo (Centro Montalvo), “Mining has created irreparable socio-environmental damages in the Dominican Republic. The extractivist model violates the fundamental rights of communities and territories. The proposal threatens critically important watersheds for agriculture and doesn’t have a social license to operate from local communities.”

The letters, signed by human rights and legal aid organizations, environmental non-profits, mining-affected community groups, and jewelry producers, among others, focus on the potential environmental and human rights impacts of the expansion, the lack of publicly available information regarding the expansion process, the aggravation of climate vulnerability that the expansion would cause, and the serious allegations of water contamination at Barrick’s operations in the DR and at other Barrick sites. The letters highlight the potentially dangerous impacts of the proposed additional mine waste storage facility, called a tailings dam, on downstream communities and vital watersheds.

“Barrick claims it is ‘serious about sustainability’ and community rights, and the Dominican government has committed to being an international leader on climate justice. The available evidence suggests the mine expansion is irreconcilable with these promises and must be immediately re-considered,” said Sienna Merope-Synge of NYU Global Justice Clinic’s Caribbean Climate Justice Initiative, one of the groups coordinating the letter.

Organizations confronting Barrick’s damaging environmental impacts and marred human rights record in other countries around the world have endorsed the letters, which argue that the company’s actions abroad casts serious doubt on its willingness to uphold the highest human rights and environmental standards in the DR. At the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea, Barrick dumped more than 6 million tonnes of tailings and 12 million tonnes of sediment from waste rock into a local river, under government permits. One organization from Papua New Guinea signed the letter with a message to communities in the DR saying, “We the Ipili Indigenous Women from Porgera are in solidarity with you in this battle.”

The letters were presented to the Dominican Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources as well as the CEO and President of Barrick Gold and the President of Barrick’s Dominican subsidiary in advance of the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto.

May 4, 2021.

Communications from NYU clinics do not represent the institutional views of NYU School of Law or the Center, if any.

GJC Issues a Solidarity Letter in Support of Communities in the Dominican Republic Resisting the Expansion of Barrick Gold’s Pueblo Viejo Mine

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

GJC Issues a Letter of Support for Communities in the Dominican Republic Resisting the Expansion of Barrick Gold’s Pueblo Viejo Mine

On October 4, 2021, the Global Justice Clinic and 42 other civil society organizations sent a letter to the Dominican Ministries of Energy and Mines and the Environment and Natural Resources in response to Barrick Gold’s plan to expand its mine in the Dominican Republic. They expressed solidarity with communities located in the area. Residents and allies, including Dominican politicians, academics, and activists, have noted that the site where Barrick proposes to build a tailings dam is the headwater of one of the most important rivers in the country, the Ozama River. In recent weeks, thousands of people have protested the proposed expansion.  This is the second solidarity letter that the Global Justice Clinic has helped to coordinate. 

The first letter, issued in May, raised concern over how the proposed expansion may exacerbate vulnerability to climate change and Barrick’s track record of environmental harm.  Five months later, resistance against the proposed expansion has grown.

This post was originally published as a press release on October 4, 2021.

Extraordinary Conditions: A Statutory Analysis of Haiti’s Qualification for TPS 1

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT

Extraordinary Conditions

A Statutory Analysis of Haiti’s Qualification for TPS 1

This report presents the extraordinary conditions in Haiti that prevent nationals from safely returning. This report also discusses the unique political moment in which Haiti finds itself—a moment which contributes to the country’s challenges with stability and security, impeding its ability to safely receive its nationals. But it also shows where progress has been made, demonstrating that the conditions described here—while together constituting a pressing social and public health crisis—remain temporary. 

Since the U.S. government designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in January 2010 after one of the world’s worst natural disasters, the country has undergone two additional catastrophes: the outbreak of cholera, introduced into Haiti’s waterways through reckless sanitation at a United Nations military base, and Hurricane Matthew, the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti in more than half a century. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designates countries for TPS in cases of ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent the nationals of those countries who have emigrated from safely returning to their home country. The DHS redesignated Haiti for TPS in 2011, emphasizing the gravity of the damage that the earthquake had caused and the severity of one of the world’s worst cholera outbreaks. TPS has been extended for Haiti four times since redesignation. 

The conditions for which TPS is in effect remain, making it unsafe for Haitian nationals to return. These conditions include a housing crisis that has left families stranded in camps and in unsafe, makeshift shelters to this day; a cholera outbreak, sparked by United Nations troops just 10 months after the earthquake, which has caused nearly 10,000 deaths and more than 815,000 cases of illness—in a country of fewer than 11 million people; and a period of extreme hunger and malnutrition caused by drought and storms and exacerbated by the economic shocks of the earthquake and Hurricane Matthew. Matthew hit one of Haiti’s key food-producing areas. 

Although these events and conditions are extraordinary and harsh, they are temporary. The Haitian government has made impressive progress in reducing the number of cases of cholera and resulting deaths. As of 2017, Haiti finally has an elected president and a full parliament, for the first time since 2012. 

This report presents the extraordinary conditions in Haiti that prevent nationals from safely returning today. This report also discusses the unique political moment in which Haiti finds itself—a moment which contributes to the country’s challenges with stability and security, impeding its ability to safely receive its nationals. But it also shows where progress has been made, demonstrating that the conditions described here—while together constituting a pressing social and public health crisis—remain temporary.

Relocation Now, Mine-Affected Communities in the D.R. and their Allies tell Barrick Gold

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Relocation Now, Mine-Affected Communities in the D.R. and their Allies tell Barrick Gold

As Barrick Gold prepares to hold its Annual General Meeting in Toronto tomorrow, Dominican communities impacted by the company’s Pueblo Viejo mine and their allies have issued an open letter to the company demanding immediate community relocation.

The letter from Espacio Nacional por la Transparencia en las Industrias Extractivas (National Space for Transparency in the Extractive Industry (ENTRE) and the Comité Nuevo Renacer, alleges grave harms to nearby communities’ health, livelihoods, and environment due to the mine’s operations. The letter also raises concerns about Barrick’s plans to expand the Pueblo Viejo mine––already one of the world’s largest gold mines–– including by constructing a new tailings dam. Dominican, Canadian, and U.S. based allies, including the Global Justice Clinic, signed on to the letter in solidarity.

Last month, communities affected by Barrick mines in Alaska, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Nevada, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines came together in a Global Week of Action, calling out the gap between Barrick’s rhetoric on human rights and its record. GJC works in solidarity with communities near Cotuí impacted by Barrick’s operations.

This post was originally published on May 1, 2023. 

Protect Human Rights Defenders and Peasants Facing Land Grabs: Haitian Human Rights Defender Milostène Castin Submits Communication to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Protect Human Rights Defenders and Peasants Facing Land Grabs

Haitian Human Rights Defender Milostène Castin Submits Communication to UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

On November 18, 2022, Global Justice Clinic client and colleague Milostène Castin submitted a formal communication to the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor. 

The communication and supporting affidavit presents the threats that Mr. Castin has received against his life as a result of his solidarity and activism with peasants—subsistence farmers—including those who have been victim to forced, and often violent, takings of their land. It requests that the Special Rapporteur send an urgent appeal to the Haitian Government regarding Mr. Castin’s case. The submission was made on November 18th in recognition of the Battle of Vertières, which marked the victory of the enslaved population of Haiti overthrowing Napoleon’s army.

Mr. Castin is the Coordinator for AREDE, Action pour la Reforestation et la Defense de l’Environnement (Action for Reforestation and Defense of the Environment) and has collaborated with the Global Justice Clinic for the past ten years. Mr. Castin has tirelessly defended the rights of peasants in rural Haiti, documenting and challenging land seizures and forced displacement. He has also spoken forcefully about the impacts of extractivism and the climate crisis on peasant communities, for example presenting on environmental racism and climate (in)justice in Haiti at NYU in October 2022, at an event to mark the launch of former Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism E. Tendayi Achiume’s final thematic report.

Mr. Castin has been attacked and intimidated due to his work for many years. The Global Justice Clinic works with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to represent Mr. Castin in relation to the threats against him.

Mr. Castin held a press conference in Haiti to coincide with his submission to the Special Rapporteur and to call attention to the ongoing threats to peasant rights in Haiti, particularly land grabs and extractivist projects. He continues to call on Haitian authorities to respect and protect the rights guaranteed by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

This post was originally posted as a press release on November 21, 2022.