ESC Volunteer Vacancies – Become a Changemaker on Fair ICT

Laura Garcia | Catapa in de kijker, Catapa in de kijker, Catapa in de kijker, News, News, News, Vacancy, Vacancy, Vacancy

ESC Volunteer Vacancies

Changemaker Fair ICT

Campaigning and Education

Communication

CATAPA

CATAPA is a volunteer movement which strives for a world in which the extraction of non-renewable resources is no longer necessary. The extraction of such materials always entails major social and environmental impacts and fuels conflict. In working towards global social and environmental justice, we focus on mining issues (ecological disasters, human rights violations, etc.) in Latin America, where we support local communities in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia who are threatened by large-scale mining projects.

Our main activities are:

  • Internationalisation of the struggle of our partners in Latin-America and capacity building
  • Awareness raising on the impact of metal consumption amongst Belgian population
  • Creating a movement for sustainable consumption and production
  • Lobby and research

CATAPA is a grassroots movement, which means that we are mostly dependent on the work of our volunteers – the Catapistas. As a grassroots movement, we also work together with other grassroots movements in our partner countries.

 

Fair ICT

CATAPA is currently engaged in a European Union campaign called ‘Make ICT Fair’ together with 10 European partners. The goal of this project is to make the entire supply chain of ICT devices (smartphones, laptops, etc.) more sustainable. CATAPA focuses on the very first part of the global ICT supply chain: the extraction of metals and minerals. ICT devices contain a wide range of metals, which are extracted across the globe, causing harm to the environment and human rights.

We aim to achieve this goal through:

  • Awareness raising with the broader public
  • Advocacy towards public institutions for more sustainable ICT procurement
  • Supply chain research
  • Lobby activities for better legislation within the bigger consortium

In addition, the Fair ICT Flanders campaign wants companies, governments and higher education institutions in Flanders to take specific steps to develop a sustainable ICT purchasing and reuse policy. All this with a view to a more sustainable future and the improvement of the working and living conditions of affected communities in the extractivist and ICT production sector.

 

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for two ESC (European Solidarity Corps) volunteers to support the CATAPA movement, and in particular the campaigns about fair ICT. The volunteer will be trained to think critically and spread knowledge of these issues and to encourage other young people to become active EU citizens. The tasks are flexible depending on your learning goals and the needs of the organisation.

You will mainly be working in our office team (4 part-time staff + 2 ESC volunteers + variable number of interns) which supports the work of the movement. Since CATAPA is a volunteer movement, you will be working in close collaboration with motivated and enthusiastic volunteers.

Possible tasks

Campaigning and Education

  • Take part in our Changemakers programme
  • Organise awareness raising and training activities for a variety of target groups (training weekends, documentary screenings, workshops, info evenings, public actions…)
  • Develop educational tools and manuals
  • Help out with organising our International Speakers Tour: Open Min(e)d
  • Write, revise and proofread articles, educational tools and research reports
  • Participate actively in meetings of the Education working group
  • Possibility to do research linked to mining and/or the ICT supply chain
  • Some administrative tasks related to the daily functioning of our office with the possibility to get an insight in the management of a non-profit organisation
  • Contribute to the functioning of the movement
  • Possibility to develop and implement your own projects

Communication

  • Take part in our Changemakers programme
  • Write, review and proofread articles
  • Design promotional material such as flyers and posters
  • Assist in managing CATAPA’s social media channels (Facebook page, Instagram account and Twitter)
  • Assist in managing and keeping CATAPA’s website updated
  • Ensure CATAPA’s house style (layout) is up to date and implemented
  • Participate actively in meetings of the Communication working group
  • Create and lead communication and promotion strategies for events
  • Assist in the organisation of various activities: our International Speakers Tour ‘Open Min(e)d’, training weekends, public actions, info-evenings, documentary festival…
  • Some administrative tasks related to the daily functioning of our office with the possibility to get an insight in the management of a non-profit organisation
  • Contribute to the functioning of the movement
  • Possibility to develop and implement your own projects

Requirements

Campaigning and Education

Essential

  • Interest in learning about the social and environmental movement and mining issues
  • Good command of English
  • Independent, proactive worker
  • Motivated to work with volunteers
  • Take your own initiative
  • Good communication skills
  • Will to contribute to positive change in the world we live in
  • Team player with a flexible attitude and plenty of humour
  • Age: below 31 years

Desirable

  • Knowledge/experience on or interest to learn about:
    ○ Circular and degrowth economy, environmental movements and/or international development
    ○ Developing educational material (e.g. workshops)
    ○ Organizing events
    ○ Project management and volunteer management
    ○ Designing promotional material
  • Good knowledge of either Dutch or Spanish

Communication

Essential

  • Interest in learning about the social and environmental movement and mining issues
  • Good command of English
  • Independent, proactive worker
  • Motivated to work with volunteers
  • Take your own initiative
  • Good communication skills
  • Will to contribute to positive change in the world we live in
  • Team player with a flexible attitude and plenty of humour
  • Age: below 31 years

Desirable

  • Knowledge/experience on or interest to learn about:
    ○ Circular and degrowth economy, environmental movements and/or international development
    ○ Volunteer management
    ○ Communication strategies
    ○ Design and layouting
    ○ Managing social media and websites
  • Good knowledge of either Dutch or Spanish

What do we offer?

● A warm welcome in our movement with plenty of learning opportunities and new connections
● A young, motivated team of employees and volunteers
● A monthly fee of (at least) 707* Euros to cover accommodation and daily expenses
● One language course (Dutch, English or Spanish)

This call is part of the European Solidarity Corps. It’s a European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer in projects abroad. This means Belgian people can’t apply for this vacancy. Expenses of the volunteers are paid. Accommodation, food and daily expenses are covered by a fee of 707* EUR which you can use according to your own needs and wishes. One language course (Dutch, English or Spanish) is covered by CATAPA, as well as work-related transport.

 

Interested or more information?

Please send your CV and motivation letter to info@catapa.be before the 28th of July 2019. If you have any questions concerning this vacancy, don’t hesitate to email truike.geerts@catapa.be or call +32 477845729.

( *: depending on final project grants)

From the polls to the tribunal: The farmers of Cajamarca suing mining multinational Angolgold Ashanti

Karlijn Van den Broeck | Colombia, Mining, News

From the polls to the tribunal: The farmers of Cajamarca suing mining multinational Angolgold Ashanti

Cajamarca, Colombia
Karlijn Van den Broek, 5 June 2019

The farming community that voted out multinational Anglogold Ashanti of their territory two years ago, is now taking the fight to court.

In March 2017, the people of Cajamarca voted against mining in their region in a Consulta Popular (popular referendum). Two years later the same community is going to court to continue their fight for Anglogold Ashanti still owns various mining concessions in the region. And to ensure their absence for once and for all, the farmers are suing the company and the National Mining Agency to nullify the still existing mining concessions.

In Cajamarca, all seems quiet and peaceful. Farmers on the hill work their land, no machinery involved. It is a hard job, but they would not trade it for the world. The fertile soil of Cajamarca makes it a very rewarding region for farming: ‘Anything grows in Cajamarca.’

Looking over Cajamarca, the impressive waterfall Chorros Blancos provides water for the citizens of the village center. Many other small water springs guarantee water to the farming families’ right to their land. The Wax Palms Forest and the Machin Volcano in Toche guard Cajamarca on the one side, and on the other side the Páramo of Anaime can be found. If you ask the citizens, they will tell you they are proud to live in Cajamarca, that this land is incredibly beautiful and precious. And any visitor would have to agree with them.

However, the people of Cajamarca have struggled a lot to get where they are today. From the beginning of the settlement, violence has been brought to the region, from colonization to the period of violencia and later the armed conflict. When after hundreds of years of war, Colombia, and thus Cajamarca, was finally beginning a new era of ‘peace’, it was only for a short time until a new threat arrived in Cajamarca: Extractivism.

More than ten years ago, the Colombian government gave mining concessions to the South-African gold mining multinational Anglogold Ashanti, who with their La Colosa mining project would open the biggest open pit mine in Latin America.

The village however, came together to defend their farming lands, their precious water sources and the future of their children. On the 26th of March 2017, Cajamarca organised a Consulta Popular, a binding mechanism of public participation stated by the Colombian constitution, where 98% of voters voted against mega mining in their territories.

The result of the Consulta Popular, a Cajamarca free of mining activities, was later established in a municipal agreement.

The decision of the people of Cajamarca is legally binding and thus has to be respected by both the multinational as the national government.

However, the National Mining Agency of Colombia has continued administrative actions regarding the existing mining concessions, without consulting nor informing the community.

There are still three current mining concessions in the municipality of Cajamarca. Therefore, the decision of the people of Cajamarca has neither been respected nor implemented until now.

The farmers of Cajamarca are demanding the nullification of the three current mining concessions in the municipality. They invoke the legal principle of objeto illicit sobreviniente: the mining concessions have to cease to exist since they are incompatible with the choice of the community of Cajamarca to prohibit mining. Following Colombian law, a contract needs to have an object that complies with the legal and constitutional requirements. The subject of the mining concessions is illicit and impossible to accomplish. The subject was licit when the concessions were granted, yet, after the consulta popular, it is no longer the case.

With the legal action the farmers of Cajamarca hope to finally achieve the full respect and execution of the decision that the community took in March, 2017, prohibiting mining in their region.

Suing a multinational is not for the light hearted. In Colombia, environmental defenders that are struggling to remain in their lands despite of corporate interests, have been the target of threats, human rights violations and killings. Moreover, the legal road is always a very long and tiring one. Nevertheless, the community of Cajamarca knows what they want: A healthy and thriving farming community, with clean waters and lush mountains. This court case, just like the countless manifestations and the consulta popular before them, is the people of Cajamarca shouting:

“El Agua vale mas que el oro, Anglogold Ashanti Fuera del Pais”

Official communiqué to the public opinion legal action defending the ‘consulta popular’ of Cajamarca

Laura Garcia | Colombia, Consulta popular, Mining, News

Official communiqué to the public opinion legal action defending the 'consulta popular' of Cajamarca

Today, Wednesday the 5th of June 2019, the corporation ‘Cajamarca Despensa Hídrica y Agrícola’, promotor of the Consulta Popular in Cajamarca, represented by the Center of Studies for Social Justice ‘Tierra Digna’, filed an absolute nullity claim against the National Mining Agency of Colombia and the company Anglo Gold Ashanti before the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to declare the nullity of (3) three mining concession contracts registered in 2007, which are still in force in the region of Cajamarca. The concessions should be nullified on the ground of violating the superior mandate expressed through the Consulta Popular (Popular Referendum) of the 26th of March 2017, in which 97% of the citizens of Cajamarca prohibited mining activities in their territory.

At the time the mining concession contracts were signed it was licit to explore and exploit minerals in Cajamarca. However, this legal landscape changed due to the incorporation of a new rule to the legal system, namely the Consulta Popular, which transformed a former lawful action (to explore and exploit minerals) to unlawful. Consequently, there should not be any mining contracts in Cajamarca at present.

The Consulta Popular of Cajamarca was a citizen initiative, in which the community, using their democratic rights, mobilized for the protection of its sovereignty and peasant life. The Consulta Popular complied with all the legal and constitutional requirements, it is now definite and, therefore, its results have mandatory effects. This legal action should be understood as the coming together of the struggles of the peasants of Cajamarca in defense of their land, but also as the beginning of a new phase that seeks to recognize the legal effects of the implementation of Consultas Populares that have been made throughout the country.

Download the document here.


The irresponsibility of Vale has led to a second big mining disaster in Brazil

Youssef Bouarada | Disaster, Mining, News

The irresponsibility of Vale has led to a second big mining disaster in Brazil

Youssef Bouarada, 27 February 2019

On January 25th, a catastrophic failure of a tailings dam in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, in Brazil led to a human and environmental disaster that cost the lives of 166 individuals and the release of millions of cubic meters of tailings into the environment.

 

This disaster was simply a result of an ongoing race to the bottom that encourages mining companies to turn a blind eye to safety and hazard standards and it has to stop right now!

Before digging into the subject, we wish to join all our partners and all the community beyond to pay our grievances to the 166 deaths and our thoughts and prayers to the people that are still missing, hoping that this tragedy won’t be repeated.

Again, this race to the bottom must be immediately halted. We are, more than ever before, convinced that business-as-usual practices are not effective when it comes to reaching the ideal of zero harm in regards with mining activities. This ideal is stressed by the mining sector in their own sustainability practices and commitments reports. And Vale was one of the companies that committed to this goal.

The tragedy of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh sparked the will to change when it came to rising the standards related to safety in the work environment to an acceptable level. This desire of change was rightfully met by the civil society components who worked conjointly with private companies to ensure the enforcement of hazard and safety standards. This is a good example of possible positive cooperation between corporations and civil society in order to commonly operate a shift to better practices in the business environment. It must be applied to the mining sector.

Brumadinho, Mount Polley (Canada, 2014), Samarco (Brazil, 2015) and many other tragedies have common causes and parameters. Yet, no real critical self-questioning was raised within the dominant actors from the mining industry. The Canadian center of Alternative policies already warned right after the Mount Polley accident that if nothing changes, we can expect tragedies occurring at a rate of two disasters per decade.

The disaster of Brumadinho in Brazil was not the first of its kind, not in the world, not even in Brazil. Vale had received 11 fines in the last 8 years that can be summed up to more than 102 million euros, and this concerns only the site of Brumadinho. Therefore, the model of open tailing dams placed on high slopes is not sustainable from any perspective. Up to this day, Vale haven’t paid a single cent of this amount.

The accident of Samarco that contaminated the Rio Doce in 2015 is another example of the attempt to get away with impunity. Vale claimed that there were no funds available for the cleanup. In this case, Brazilian justice showed teeth by freezing their assets and obliged them to commit to paying 8 million US dollars. This kind of strong leadership must be translated into concrete action to achieve better commitments and implementation of norms governing safety and hazard. Eventually, a convergence of national arsenals of laws must set new, more rigorous norms around the world and within the different branches of power. Legislators and executors must look up to the Brazilian independent judicial power as an example of ending corporate impunity.

Therefore, something has to change regarding the regulations and the practices.

This change has to be radical. Companies like Vale must be held entirely accountable for the mess that hey caused and pay the entire bill for cleaning it. In the Canadian case, the Province of British-Colombia paid back Imperial Metals, the responsible company, 23 million Canadian dollars -from Taxpayers money, the same people that suffered the tragedy- as a form of fiscal incentives after cleaning. Gaming the system that way is definitely a barrier to the effectiveness of a new, socially and environmentally responsible mining regime. Brazilian justice has to shimmer the example. This is going the right way since the public prosecutor of Minas Gerais threatened to seize the equipment of Vale in the scenario of nonpayment of fines.

The reaction to Mount Polley disaster by the provincial government of British Columbia in Canada was the concretization of the adage “One step forward then two steps backwards”. Although the government had implemented 20 out of the 27 measures that appear in the Mount Polley guidelines, it had not insisted on the importance of carrying out independent inspections, therefore, no real change in the quality and integrity of the inspections was operated. This is not the way to go.

So, what needs to be done?

Firstly, stop developing networks of “expert agencies” that produce “counter expertise” with the sole goal of preventing any improvements when it comes to initiatives to enforce safety commitments. This is the ultimate demonstration of defiance and lack of courage from the mining industry to get behind the standards that regulate the safety of people and surroundings that rule every industry. Everyone must acknowledge that the pursuit of profit cannot be done at all costs.

Recognizing the recommendations of the Expert Independent Panel of Mount Polley, backed up by the UN environment report, is a red line that cannot be put under negotiation. Conversely, the reports issued by mining companies contain no trace of mentions of best available technology (BAT) and, therefore, they have weak commitments that cannot help to achieve the goal of zero harm. Although this is a key step for the mining industry to adopt better ethics.

Assuring independent inspections by third-party bodies that are paid for by companies is not negotiable either. In order to prevent such disasters from occurring again, we must end upstream tailing dams and come up with better studies to monitor suitability areas for waste storage with reinforced conditions, such as augmented distance from surrounding human settlements.

It is about time that everyone starts paying more attention to the voices that are rising from local communities expressing their concerns and warnings for years. Catapa had always joined efforts of warning against the bad impacts of tailing dams located near human settlements and on high slopes.

Undoubtably, there’s the crucial need of developing a coherent disaster management system and emergency response schemes to provide those who were struck by similar tragedies with immediate medical assistance. And in order to achieve this, companies must rebuild livelihood resilience and provide fair compensations for the damaged ecosystem.

Finally, assisting the ones who lost their families with moral and financial support during their period of mourning and grievance is necessary.

Satellite images and pictures displaying the valley around the mining site before (Antes) and after (depois) the Dam failure. Source: UOL Noticias.

Satellite images displaying the mining site before (Antes) and after (depois) the Dam failure. Source: UOL Noticias.

Mirtha Vasquez visits CATAPA

Alienor de Sas | News, News, Peru, Peru

Mirtha Vasquez visits CATAPA to discuss the issues that 'defensoras' face

17 January 2018

This week Mirtha Vasquez visited CATAPA. She is the director of GRUFIDES and the lawyer for famous environmentalist Maxima Acuña and is based in Peru. The purpose of her visit was to lobby and raise awareness for the Defensoras in Peru and Latin America through public events and a meeting at the EU. The visit laid the groundwork for a very exciting week here at CATAPA.

On Tuesday there was an event at the Pianofabriek in Brussels called Women, gender equality, climate justice: a case for Defensoras. Besides Mirtha Vasquez, Amelia Alva Arevalo who is a researcher at University of Ghent spoke of her current research that focuses on the implementation and exercise of the prior consultation of indigenous peoples in the Andean Countries. In June-July 2017, she was on an observation mission to El Salvador on human rights violations towards Defensoras. Furthermore, Nicky Broekhoven spoke about her research that is coming from a legal perspective and focuses on gender equality, women’s rights, and environment. She is also a volunteer at the Gender and Human Rights division of Amnesty International, and advocates for a mainstreaming of gender in questions regarding human rights. The event attracted a diverse and large audience and the Pianofabriek was filled to the brim. After the presentations there was also a Q & A session with all the speakers, leading to dynamic discussions about the issues that WHRDs face.

The lawyer and director of Grufides, Mirtha Vásquez, gives a lecture during a public event organized by CATAPA in Brussels. Photography by Alienor de Sas (All rights reserved)

On Wednesday there was an event at the European Parliament aimed at raising awareness on the precarious situation of women environmental activists in Latin-America. Mirtha Vasquez did a presentation together with Dr. Clara Burbano-Herrera (University of Ghent). The presentations contained recommendations for the EU concerning the protection of HRDs and WHRDs in Latin America. Much interest was garnered from MEPs and NGOs with regards to how WHRDs can be protected, both within a legal framework and through attention garnered in various press publications. MEPs also asked questions about how they could include issues discussed in the presentation within free trade agreements (FTAs) and how they should be framed in an inclusive manner.

Following the presentations of Mirtha Vasquez and Dr. Clara Burbano-Herrera there was presentations from both Florent Marcellesi (MEP Greens/EFA), Rapporteur for Opinion, and  Jordi Solé (MEP Greens/EFA), member of AFET and BUDG. The presentations were concerning the protection that the EU give HRDs and how their new strategies are supported by the budget. At the request of the various civil society organisations present they elaborated further on the real life impact of the EUs commitments. It was indeed very interesting to hear about similar issues coming from both the EU and individuals affected by their policies.

Charlotte Christiaens, activities coordinator of  CATAPA and Mirtha Vásquez,  during her intervention in the European Parliament. Photography by Alienor de Sas (All rights reserved)

Of course there was also time for an internal meeting with Mirtha Vasquez and the catapistas to discuss the current situation in Peru and future collaborations.

It was a great pleasure to have her as a guest here at CATAPA and we are very glad that so many people showed interest in listening to her description about the current problems with the mining industry and WHRDs in Peru.

Mirtha Vásquez and Laura Lucio rapport of EU resolution

Alienor de Sas | Women, News, News, Peru, Peru, Women

The European Parliament approves resolution on “Women, Gender Equality and Climate Justice”

Mirtha Vásquez (GRUFIDES), Laura Lucio (ESF)

25 January 2018

The European Union (EU) has been concerned with the issues regarding the safety of human rights defenders (HRDs) for some time. In recent years HRDs has been victims of serious attacks by individuals or companies when trying to defend their territories against large projects with massive investments. There has been incidents where people have been attacked, assassinated in conjunction with various other human rights violations. Recently new light has been shed on the particular risk that women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are exposed to.

Due to such observations the EU has implemented new measures to not only protect HRDs, but also to minimize the impacts of the large projects has on the population and their territories. The EU recognized that the protection of various ecosystems and the environment is a fundamental aspect when facing increasing risks of global climate change.

Hence, parliamentary members from the green european parties presented a draft resolution on “Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change”. In order to highlight the importance of the initiative they invited Latin-American environmental defenders such as Mirtha Vásquez to speak. Mirtha Vásquez is mainly concerned with defending community rights in Peru and is a member of the Latin-American network of women earth and human rights defenders. She spoke about the importance of women in the struggle of environmental defence, and about the asymmetrical impact felt by women. This situation has been drastically intensified in light of recent years climate change context.

On January the 16th 2018 the European Parliament approved of this resolution. It establishes different principles that could strengthen the resilience of women and the protection of their human rights. The resolution has many objectives regarding the improvement of women’s role in decision-making processes. This mainly concerns processes regarding climate and environmental issues. Such advances could be an important catalyst for the inclusion of human and eco-territorial rights in the process of decision-making at the local level. It particularly affects the management of natural resources, the environment and the prioritization of rural sustainable development policies at the national level in order to tackle the extractivist model.

Furthermore, the resolution emphasizes the necessity of strengthening the right of access to land and ownership  by women as an important measure to guarantee gender empowerment. It can be an important mechanism that enables communities to preserve their traditional territories that are currently endangered by extractive industries. Extractive industries are generally regarded as one of the central causes of climate change and environmental degradation.

Given the relation between extractive industries and climate change we believe that the intervention and protection of WHRDs is fundamental. We would like to thank and celebrate this progress that, above all, recognizes women as active agents in the defense of their territory, with regards to the mitigation and adaptation necessary in order to face new climate risks.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of CATAPA and can under no circumstance be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union

Concerns over the irregular humanitarian pardon granted by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Alienor de Sas | News, News, Peru, Peru

Concerns aimed at the EU after pardon of former Peru president Fujimori

Brussels, Monday, 29th January, 2018

The “Plataforma Europa Peru” (PEP), the “EU-LAT Network” (ex CIFCA and Grupo Sur) and CIDSE would like to express their deepest concern to the European Union over the human rights situation in Peru, after the pardon granted to former president Alberto Fujimori, who had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for grave human rights violation. The three civil society networks ask the European Union and Member States to express their deepest concern to the situation and ask the Peruvian State to guarantee the right of the victims and/or their families to truth, justice and reparation, as well as guarantee the effective implementation of international human rights’ norms and judicial sentences given to the Peruvian State by national and international juridical mechanisms.

As indicated by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights1, the granting of the pardon for alleged health reasons did not comply with the fundamental legal requirements, nor did it respect the elements of transparency and independence of due process, which should have been key during the undertaken technical medical evaluation. This jeopardizes the progress made in recent years in the advancement of democracy and the strengthening of the rule of law in Peru, both of which are
central elements in the European Union’s foreign policy with this country. It also represents a major setback in the search for truth, justice and reparationfor the victims of the internal conflict (1980 – 2000).

On April 7th 2009, Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for grave human rights violation and for crimes against humanity. This sentence was ratified by the Peruvian Supreme Court in December 2009. Amongst other crimes, Fujimori was found guilty of the assassination of nine students and one professor from the University La Cantuta, and the assassination of fifteen people in Barrio Altos, Lima.

These crimes were classified as crimes against humanity by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in its judgement in the case against Alberto Fujimori in 2011. According to the international human rights law, explicitly endorsed by Inter-American Court during its ruling, crimes against humanity are not subject to pardons or amnesties, given the gravity of the crimes committed. Fujimori was also found guilty of corruption and diversion of funds.

It is important to highlight that the pardon took place in the midst of a political crisis, caused by corruption allegations that have affected a vast number of politicians, including the president, who feared being forced out of office. In fact, president Kuczynski reportedly only escaped being forced to vacate because a number of members of Congress who belong to Fujimori’s pro party abstained their vote, reason why the number of votes required for impeachment was not reached.

The pardon granted on the 24th of December by president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has been interpreted as a political move to please the Fujimoristas. The Pro-Fujimori party has a majority in Congress and, over the last year, it has limited the Executive’s capacity to govern effectively. From a wider perspective, the pardon can be considered a part of an impunity pact between the Peruvian government and the Fujimoristas, which seeks to cover corruption allegations as well as grave human rights violations over the last decades.

The political background severely questions the fact that the pardon responded to humanitarian reasons. The call for a “national reconciliation” mentioned by president Kuczynski is very worrisome when the rights of victims of human rights violations during the Fujimori mandate are being sidelined and placed below interests that appear to be politically motivated.

The Inter-American Court and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights voiced their rejection to the pardon because “Peru failed to carry out the Court’s ruling and failed to fulfil its international obligations”. They have also called for the implementation of necessary measures to reestablish the rights of the affected victims.

Because of recent events, the PEP, the EU-LAT Network and CIDSE ask the European Union and Member States to condemn the current situation that allows for grave human rights violations to remain in impunity, and to:

  • Ask the Peruvian state to abide by any forthcoming decision taken by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is holding a special session on February 2nd to assess the legality of the pardon and its consequences, – a hearing requested by human rights organizations representing the victims;
  • Within the framework of the European Union – Peru dialogue, the European Union should follow up on the results from the legal hearing that took place on 26th January 2018 at the National Penal Court, pertaining the Pativilca case;
  • To ask the Peruvian State to adopt the necessary measures to reestablish the right of the victims to truth, justice and reparation, and to follow the recommendations of international experts and institutions to strengthen the rule of law.
  • To give their public endorsement to international mechanisms for the protection of human rights, including the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, in their recommendations to the Peruvian State concerning the pardon;
  • To take complementary measures to ensure the full compliance to the Democratic Clause subscribed to by all Member States to the Trade Agreement between the European Union, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

Plataforma Europa Perú, Red EU-LAT (ex CIFCA y Grupo Sur), CIDSE

Sources;

1Comunicado de prensa 218/17; “CIDH expresa profunda preocupación y cuestiona el indulto concedido a Alberto Fujimori”.

2Cabe recordar que la Unión Europea misma había financiado proyectos relativos al seguimiento de las recomendaciones de la Comisión Verdad y Reconciliación en 2006.

Hellas Gold pleas for reduction in letter of guarantee

Inge van der Spek | Greece, News

Hellas Gold pleas for reduction in letter of guarantee

Inge van der Spek, 23rd April 2018

On the 26th of January, a representative of Hellas Gold – daughter company of the Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold – pleaded for a reduction in the letter of guarantee[1] for the rehabilitation of their New Kokkinolakkas Tailings Management Facility (TMF).[2] This TMF is supposed to dispose of waste from the Olympias and Mavres Petres mines; from the new Madem Lakkos ore treatment facilities; as well as waste materials from old tailings and intervention areas. The mining company –which had a TTM revenue of $0.39 billion on April 3rd 2018[3] – claims to already have invested substantial amounts of money into cleaning and rehabilitation of old disposal sites. They believe that, therefore, they earn a reduction in the letter of guarantee. The responsible authorities, however, are not giving in.

This is not so surprising if we look at the already turbulent history of this mining project. Hellas Gold bought 95% of the shares from the previous mining company present in the area in 2011, and from that moment on started developing several mining sites. The company now owns several mines in the municipality of Kassandra, on the Chalkidiki peninsula in the north of Greece: the underground silver-lead-zinc mine Mavres Petres; the underground gold-silver-lead-zinc mine Olympias; and the combined underground and open-pit gold-copper mine Skouries. Parallel with the development of these 3 mines, there is also the development of the so-called ‘New Ore Treatment Facilities’ taking place in Madem Lakkos. The permits for these facilities, however, have not yet been approved by the Greek authorities. The New Kokkinolakkas Tailings Management Facility (TMF) is part of these treatment facilities.

Since the arrival of the company to this area, the local population has been resisting against the mining activities. The main income of inhabitants of the Chalkidiki peninsula traditionally stems from farming activities, beekeeping and tourism. These activities are rooted in the rich biodiversity and astounding nature that characterises the area. As a result of the mining activities, ground water now flows away into deep holes drilled by the mining company and doesn’t reach farming fields anymore. The use of harmful chemicals impedes the growth of plants and lowers the biodiversity. Desertification will lead to soil erosion, and dust will prevent the trees from breathing, leading to their death. It is clear that the nature – and with this the source of income of the local population – is being destroyed by the mining activities. Furthermore, when the people take it to the streets to show their disagreement, their manifestations are violently suppressed by anti-terrorist police units and private security forces.

One would expect the mayor of the region to support its citizens, but this is not the case. In fact, one of the citizens explains that the mayor of Kassandra was deputy Minister of Finance in 2011 the year when the government allocated the property rights of the territory to Hellas Gold. One could therefore say that the current mayor of Kassandra made it possible for the mines and all related problems to develop. The Greek government generally claims that the development of these mines is an opportunity for the region to develop, despite the strong opposition of the inhabitants of the area.

The bad economic situation of the country makes that multinational companies such as Hellas Gold have a lot of power to influence policies. The company’s plea for a reduction in the letter of guarantee is just another practice of its power aimed at increasing its profits at the cost of the local population, financial gains for the Greek state and nature. It is to be hoped that the Greek government will stay strong and not give in to the pressure of the company. Money should never be prioritised over rights of people and rights of the nature.

Sources

Powerpoint Presentation Hellas Gold during “workshop on financial guarantees in the field of extractive waste management.” http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/mining/

Website Eldorado Gold: https://www.eldoradogold.com

Documentary “Unearthing disaster – Corridor X – Postscript to an Unfinished Journey – SOS Halkidiki”. By Angela Anderson. https://vimeo.com/channels/restlessminds

Website CATAPA: www.catapa.be

Eldorado Gold (EGO) Revenue and Net Income History. http://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/EGO/revenue/eldorado-gold-revenue-net-income-history

 


[1] A letter of guarantee is an agreement between the mining company and the concerned state which states that in case collateral and/or unexpected damage occurs due to the activities of the company, the company will be obliged to pay a certain amount of money to the government.

[2] The company did so during a workshop on financial guarantees in the field of extractive waste management organised by the Directorate-General of Environment of the European Commission.

[3] http://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/EGO/revenue/eldorado-gold-revenue-net-income-history

Eldorado needs a social license to mine Greek gold

Goud:Eerlijk? | Greece, News

Last Saturday, a crowd of approximately 15,000 people from Thessaloniki and the Halkidiki peninsula flooded the commercial high street of Greece’s northern port city. They paraded placards with the faces of politicians who had helped sell four mining concessions to a series of Canadian and Australian companies over the past decade, and chanted, “We want forests, earth and water, not a tomb made of gold.” On Monday the protests spread to Athens and Komotini, and more anti-mining events are planned.

Why, at a time of desperately high unemployment (nominally 27 percent nationwide, but forecast by the Labour Institute to rise to 31 percent by the end of the year) is a foreign investor having such trouble establishing himself?

The tomb of gold the protesters refer to is a series of environmental calamities they fear will befall the area if Canada’s Eldorado Gold Corporation, the current holder of the concessions, proceeds with plans to extract and refine gold ore. Chief among those concerns is the poisoning of the water table from naturally occurring arsenic in some of the ore and from cyanide used in the leeching process. Many are concerned about the demise of air quality from dust produced by the pulverisation of millions of tonnes of the ore. Greece’s Geological Research Institute found low-content gold deposits across northern Greece in the 1980s, and many locals suspect that Eldorado will one day extend its operations uncontrollably, turfing up hundreds of thousands of hectares.

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