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Activists crash Barrick Gold's shareholders meeting to raise issues of rape at the company’s mines

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By Hilary Beaumont, VICE News, April 27, 2016 

Four activists crashed the annual general meeting of the world's biggest gold mining company on Tuesday morning while, outside, around 60 protesters chanted at company shareholders, "Quit while you're ahead, Barrick Gold is dead."

But inside the meeting in front of about 200 shareholders, Barrick Gold's executive chairman of the board John Thornton emphasized that "Barrick is back" and "gold is here to stay." While the company pushed the message that it was taking human rights seriously, four activists used proxy shares to speak about rape allegations and environmental damage at the company's mines in Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Argentina.

Given a chance to speak at the meeting, MiningWatch Canada Research Co-ordinator Catherine Coumans called Barrick's Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea and its North Mara mine in Tanzania "extremely violent places" where women and men have allegedly been beaten and raped by mine security guards.

New Haiti commission has 30 days to verify elections results

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, April 28, 2016

Acknowledging the opposition by some Haitians and foreign diplomats to any recount of last year’s disputed elections, Haiti’s interim president on Thursday installed a five-member commission to help determine who should serve in parliament and who should head into a presidential runoff.

“The commission is indispensable to assure the credibility of the electoral process,” President Jocelerme Privert said during a ceremony at the National Palace.

The former head of the Haitian Senate, Privert was elected by a joint session of parliament on Feb. 14 to resume Haiti’s interrupted elections by April 24 and transfer power to a new president on May 14. But the failure to meet either of those deadlines has made him a target of criticism from foreign diplomats, the international community, the opposition, and former President Michel Martelly. Martelly, who did not hold one election during his four years in office, stepped down on Feb. 7 without an elected successor because of the disputed vote.

Foreign meddling in Haiti's ongoing electoral crisis continues as President Privert visits the UN

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Haiti’s long-awaited, long-debated verification commission will soon see the light of day … maybe. “We have chosen the five members of the commission, a decree will be published shortly,” provisional President Jocelerme Privert told journalists during an April 20 press conference at the airport, shortly before leaving for a UN conference in New York. A verification commission has been a key demand of many civil society organizations, human rights figures and political parties, which for months have called for an investigation into electoral fraud. But the idea of verifying the vote has many powerful opponents, from former President Michel Martelly’s PHTK party and its allies in Parliament to the U.S. and other Core Group countries funding Haiti’s elections. And nearly a week after Privert’s announcement, the commission has still not been officially constituted.
 

Slaying of 3 deaf women in Haiti highlights vulnerability

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By David McFadden, Associated Press, April 25, 2016

The three friends had spent the day stocking up on food in the Haitian capital when they left for their village, setting off on the 20-mile trip home by foot because the minibuses known as tap-taps weren't running after a bridge collapse. Their bodies were found the next morning in a ditch along the way. They had been beaten, stabbed and burned, and relatives who identified them in a morgue said their tongues were cut out in an apparent act of ritualistic savagery.

 
The women's family and friends suspect they were targeted because they were deaf in a country where experts say a pervasive stigma isolates people with disabilities such as deafness and can spark superstitions leading to horrific cruelty. Disabled women and girls are particularly vulnerable.
 
Due to cultural prejudices and the weakness of the justice system, past crimes against disabled citizens have been largely ignored. But the slayings of Jesula Gelin, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent have galvanized Haitians with disabilities and prompted rare public protests by their advocacy groups.

An interview with Haiti’s President Jocelerme Privert

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By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, April 27, 2016

Haiti’s Provisional President Jocelerme Privert visited New York this past weekend to attend the Apr. 22 signing, by many heads of state and government, of the Paris Climate Agreement which was reached on Dec. 12, 2015. In addition to that ceremony at the United Nations General Assembly, President Privert held several other meetings with UN and other government officials, as well as with businessmen and Haitian doctors, among others. On Saturday, he also made a mostly unpublicized visit to Brooklyn’s Haitian community, where Haïti Liberté’s Kim Ives was granted an exclusive interview at Tonèl Restaurant. The interview was conducted in Kreyòl and has been translated into English.

Stéphane Dion urged to protect Honduran villagers from Canadian mining company

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By Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press, April 20, 2016

A Canadian human rights delegation urged Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion's office Wednesday to come to the aid of Honduran villagers they say are being exploited by a Canadian mining company.

The group — including First Nations women leaders, the organization MiningWatch Canada, lawyers and activists — visited Honduras this past week and want to draw attention to the plight of villagers in Azacualpa. The group says in a brief presented to Dion's office that the operations of Toronto-based Aura Minerals are affecting the health of villagers by exposing them to cyanide leaching and from its open-pit gold mine.

They also say the company wants to move both the villagers and their community graveyard. They're also calling on the Canadian embassy to stop supporting the company's activities in Honduras.

Will the UN ever accept responsibility for Haiti’s devastating cholera epidemic?

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By Rosa Freedman & Nicolas Lemay-Hémert, The Conversation, April 26, 2016

What happens when a humanitarian organisation meant to protect people instead causes them grave harm? That has long been the question where it comes to the UN’s peacekeeping operations. From sexual violence to looting, from deaths caused by drink-driving to property damage, a great many individuals have been harmed by peacekeepers, and the structures to provide protection and remedy range from threadbare to non-existent.

But it’s another thing altogether when the harm done is attributable not to individual peacekeepers, but to UN operations in general. Two of the gravest examples of this have occurred in recent years: the Haiti cholera epidemic, and the poisoning of Roma in displaced persons camps in Kosovo.

For years, there have been fights to secure justice for both sets of victims. But while Haiti’s struggle goes on, in the Kosovan case, it looks like a major breakthrough has been made.