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People are standing up to abusive Western mining companies. And they could soon win a massive victory

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By Tamara Micner, The Canary, Sept. 7, 2017

Canada has a reputation for being a politetolerant country. But when it comes to Latin America, that stereotype doesn’t hold up. Because Canada’s mining industry has been abusing both indigenous rights and the environment in Latin America, in the name of profit; and the Canadian government is doing little or nothing to stop it.

Indigenous people are standing up to these abusive mining companies, though. And they could be on the cusp of a massive victory.

Canadians divided on granting entry to asylum seekers from U.S., poll finds

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By Michelle Zilio, The Globe & Mail, Sept. 14, 2017

More than 12,000 asylum seekers have crossed into Canada at a single unofficial crossing point along the Quebec-United States border this year, surpassing the province's expectations for all of 2017.

The numbers come as a new survey shows that Canadians are equally divided over whether the country should welcome asylum seekers from the United States or close its borders to them. A Nanos poll found that more than one-third of Canadians – 37 per cent – say Canada should welcome asylum seekers from the United States, while the same percentage of respondents think Canada should close its borders; 26 per cent were unsure.

Public outcry forces Guatemala congress to backtrack on 'Impunity pact'

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By Angelika Albaladejo, InSight Crime, Sept. 15, 2017

Guatemala's congress is backtracking on an attempt to weaken anti-corruption efforts following massive public outcry and a rapid response by the country's highest court, indicating that while international pressure has not seemed to deter corrupt political elites from attempting to shield themselves, widespread domestic outrage might.

Thousands of Guatemalan citizens filled the capital's public square on September 14 in one of the biggest protests since 2015, when months of sustained anti-corruption demonstrations helped force the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina, who was ultimately jailed for his involvement in an intricate embezzlement scheme.

The contentious reform that sparked the recent outrage was passed by congress on September 13. It would have essentially gutted campaign finance rules and permitted criminals with sentences of less than 10 years to pay fines in lieu of serving jail time. Many Guatemalans perceived the reform as a "pact of impunity" between politicians to protect one another from investigation, prosecution and prison time for illicit campaign financing.

Haiti, Irma, climate change, and priorities

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By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), Sept. 12, 2017

At least one person died, one remains missing, and more than a dozen were injured by the passage of Hurricane Irma off the northern coast of Haiti last week. As of September 11, nearly 6,500 Haitians remain in emergency shelters, according to the United Nations. Preliminary figures suggest that flooding impacted 22 communes, completely destroying 466 houses and badly damaging more than 2,000 more. As veteran AFP correspondent Amelie Baron noted on Twitter, “These are the damages of a hurricane passing hundreds of kilometers away from [the] Haitian coast.”

The UN’s liability for civilian harms: Lessons from cholera in Haiti

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By Beatrice Lindstrom and  Sienna Merope- Synge, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), September, 2017

This article first appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Newsletter of the Human Rights Law Committee of the Public and Professional Interest Division of the International Bar Association (Vol 1, Issue 1), and is reproduced by kind permission of the International Bar Association, London, UK. © International Bar Association.

 

Summary

The United Nations enjoys broad immunity from suit, but has well-established legal obligations to compensate civilians harmed by its tortious conduct. Yet, it took years of advocacy – from the streets of Port-au-Prince to legal action in New York – to persuade the UN to redress harms it caused by recklessly introducing cholera to Haiti. Recently, the UN has recognised a moral, but not legal, duty to victims. This gap between the UN’s liability on paper and its practice violates victims’ right to a remedy, and undermines the UN’s own credibility in promoting the rule of law and human rights.

Irma destroys Haitian farmland as recovery goes on from recent natural disasters & cholera outbreak

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By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, Sept. 11, 2017

Host Amy Goodman discusses the effects of hurricane Irma on Haiti with Kim Ives, an editor and journalist for Haïti Liberté.

The death toll from Hurricane Irma has reached at least 27 in the Caribbean. The numbers are expected to rise as rescuers reach the hardest-hit areas. Irma destroyed major parts of several Caribbean islands, including Barbuda and Saint Martin. Cuba also suffered major flooding in Havana and other cities, but there were no reported deaths.

Disasters caused by hurricanes and climate change are a systemic problem

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By K. Jessica Hsu & Mark Schuller, Haiti Liberté  Sept. 6, 2017

As we go to press this week, Category 5 Hurricane Irma, with record breaking winds of 185 mph, is bearing down on Haiti and other Caribbean nations. Meanwhile, a magnitude 4.3 earthquake struck Haiti’s Central Plateau on Sep. 2, damaging a school and six homes. One person was injured in the relatively minor temblor.

In the past decade, Haiti has been struck by multiple natural disasters, including four storms in one month in 2008, the January 2010 earthquake, and last October’s Hurricane Matthew. All resulted in terrible death and destruction. But there is nothing “natural” about these catastrophes. People died because Haiti’s local and overseas ruling classes, and the government officials they help put in office, have other priorities and care nothing for people’s lives and welfare.                                                                                                              

Haiti’s neighbor to the west proves the point. Cuba is hit almost every year by powerful hurricanes and yet suffers very few casualties. In fact, “a person is 15 times as likely to be killed by a hurricane in the United States as in Cuba,” according to the Center for International Policy, a Washington think-tank. This is because the Cuban government prepares buildings, trees, and infrastructure for storms, trains its citizens and a Civil Defense Force in evacuations and sheltering, and gets food, water, and doctors ready.

Hurricane Matthew killed 372 in Haiti, and 44 in the U.S.. In Cuba, the death toll was zero.