Originally published 24 October 2019, here, by Deutsche Welle (dw.com); Picture credit: Copyright Reuters; photograph by J. Rinaldi
The men were subject to forced anal examinations by police and detained on suspicion of engaging in homosexual acts. Gay sex is punishable by life in prison in Uganda and there are plans to introduce the death penalty.
A group of 16 LGBT+ activists have been arrested and subject to forced anal examinations by police in Uganda, according to a rights group on Thursday.
Police confirmed the arrests, saying the men were detained after a “complaint from the public.” Gay acts and anal sex are illegal in Uganda and can be punishable with life imprisonment.
“Based on the medical examination report, it was established that the suspects were involved in sexual acts punishable under the penal code.”
Police spokesman Patrick Onyango told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The authorities also found lubricants, condoms, and anti-viral drugs while searching a charity located outside the capital, Kampala.
Sexual minorities face daily violence and discrimination in the African country of Uganda. Earlier this month, activists reported that a gay rights campaigner was bludgeoned to death. The latest arrests mark an escalation by the authorities, said Frank Mugisha of the Sexual Minorities Uganda.
“Normally we will hear of maybe one arrest of someone from the community under these anti-gay laws in one month, but it is really unusual to see 16 people charged like this.”
Frank Mugisha of the Sexual Minorities Uganda told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the Reuters news agency.
Originally published 31 October 2019, YouTube channel of Ecocide – vs – Harmony with Nature
David Dene talks to PhD students and lawyers about an impending Ecocide in Ecuador.
He outlines the terrible catastrophe which will occur on the inevitable collapse of the Mirador Mine tailings facilities if these dams are built. One tailings dam, the Tundayme dam, will be the highest tailings dam in the world when built — at 273 meters high.
There are several legal issues present, and all are based on the #RightsofNature. The question offered to the Constitutional Court of Ecuador questions the right of the government to build such a dangerous dam at the very unsafe angle of 1.5 to 1, in a region rife with earthquakes.
And to build it in the middle of the Amazone, with villages as close as one kilometer downstream. The highlighted red line shows the path of destruction leading into the Amazonian rainforest and jungle areas, including four rivers and irreplaceable flora and fauna.
Originally published by China Dialogue Ocean, 18 October 2019, link here; authored by Wang Yan
Insights into progress and future plans from Liu Feng, secretary general of the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA)
Opening an app on his mobile phone, Liu Feng, secretary general of COMRA, showed a real-time map indicating the tracks and positions of all China-owned vessels conducting seabed mining exploration assignments. At that moment, two vessels were shown in the Pacific Ocean.
“They are Haiyang No. 6 and Xiangyanghong No. 10,” Liu told me in his office in Beijing. “Another vessel, Dayang No.1, will leave Qingdao for the eastern Pacific on August 28 to conduct the 56th voyage under COMRA’s seabed resource exploration assignment.”
To enhance the development of high technology for deep-seabed mining and help apply for permission to explore the deep seabed to the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the state enterprise COMRA was established in 1990. It authorises prospecting and mining on the seabed in international waters, which is known as “the Area”. The following year, COMRA, along with six other pioneer investors which included the governments of India and South Korea and the Deep Ocean Resources Development Co. Ltd from Japan, was registered to start preparatory research on seabed mining in the Area at the Preparatory Commission of the ISA and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
In 2001, COMRA signed its first exploration contract with the ISA for polymetallic nodules and gained the exclusive right for exploration and preferential right for exploitation in the contract area in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone in the northeast Pacific, a deep ocean area as big as the continental US. Then in 2011 and 2014 COMRA signed two more exploration contracts for polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts with the ISA.
Apart from being the key Chinese contractor to the ISA on seabed mining exploration, COMRA also acts as a body to provide a national institutional platform to coordinate both scientific activities and international affairs.
I interviewed Liu Feng in mid-August on issues relating to China’s technological breakthroughs on deep-sea exploration over the past two decades and its plans for future exploration.
NC: What are the plans for next phase of research, exploration and international cooperation?
LF: Since our first scientific expedition, we’ve conducted 55 voyages. Now there are five or six voyages every year in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, and the 56th trip is setting off soon.
During the recent ISA meeting [in Kingston, Jamaica], the proposal by the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources to join with the ISA on establishing a training centre based in Qingdao to promote developing countries’ capacity building was approved by the ISA assembly. So starting next year, we will try to provide a minimum of 20 free training opportunities for developing countries.
For exploitation, we are planning to trial our mining system of 1,000 metres below the surface next year or so in the South China Sea to prepare for the setting up of an environmental impact evaluation system for seabed-mining activities. We aim to set up our own environmentally friendly seabed mining system, also providing a reference for the ISA’s decision-making on related issues. For exploration, our vessel the Jiaolong is scheduled for an over 250-day global voyage through the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans for the purpose of encouraging international cooperation.
The interview was originally published by NewsChina and is republished in the China Dialogue Ocean article with permission.
It warns investors and policymakers to prepare for a complete phase-out of coal by 2030, because without heavy subsidies the industry will not survive sustained competition from ever lower cost wind and solar power and temporarily cheap gas.
Governments will face “intractable problems” if they seek to support coal in the long-term because they will have to choose whether to: pass costs to the utilities and destroy shareholder value; pass costs to consumers and push bills up; or fund them from debt or taxes.
Matt Gray, Head of Power & Utilities at Carbon Tracker and co-author of the report, said:
“EU coal generators are haemorrhaging cash because they cannot compete with ever-cheaper renewables and gas and this will only get worse. Policymakers and investors should prepare to phase out coal by 2030 at the latest.”
Carbon Tracker used asset-level financial models to analyse the operating economics of every coal plant in the EU and the losses they face in 2019. It found that:
Germany’s lignite and hard coal plants could lose €9 billion, yet the country’s coal commission has only recommended a 2038 deadline for phasing out coal.
Spain and the Czech Republic, which have yet to set a phase-out date, face losses of €992 million and €899 million respectively. In the UK, which has set a 2025 deadline, its remaining coal plants will lose €732 million.
Germany’s RWE is the utility facing the greatest losses – it could haemorrhage €975 million, 6% of its market capitalisation. EPH, with assets mainly in Germany and the Czech Republic, could lose €613 million, and PPC, in Greece, could lose €596 million.
This year EU hard coal generation has fallen 39% since 2018, resulting in “eye-wateringly low utilisation rates” while lignite generation is down 20%. Carbon Tracker calculates that overall 84% of lignite generation and 76% of hard coal generation is unprofitable, facing 2019 losses of €3.54 billion and €3.03 billion respectively. Across the EU 79% of coal plants are running at a loss.
Why is the Amazon burning and what’s the UK/EU got to do with it?
Published by Greenpeace UK, 2 September 2019, original article here
Author: Helle Abelvik-Lawson
The Brazilian Amazon has been on fire for weeks. Slash-and-burn practices by farmers, backed by Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, have seen great swathes of the world’s most crucial ecosystem burnt to a crisp.
The fires in the Amazon are no natural disaster: they are the result of an active choice to sacrifice the environment and Indigenous rights for industry profit. And our companies, governments and global supply chains play a key role in driving the destruction.
You’d think rainforests wouldn’t burn. But fires are a key tool used for deforestation by farmers. And small patches of deforestation have created dried-out fringe areas, which also catch fire easily.
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged land clearing for farming, creating a more fragmented rainforest. He took power promising to back business and cut “red tape” – which has meant weakened protections of Brazil’s forests. He fired the head of Brazil’s space agency INPE, tasked with tracking Amazon deforestation, accusing him of “lies” over the clearances.
Bolsonaro has also effectively “declared war” on Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples standing in the way of Amazon land grabs. He once said: “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”
Those who destroy the Amazon are encouraged by his speeches. In mid-August, farmers around a main road in the Amazon held a “Day of Fire”, resulting in a 300% increase in fires in the area.
New figures show the amount of Amazon Rainforest cleared in Brazil have reached a record high. As of the end of August 2019, Brazil has seen over 90,000 fires: over 46,000 in the Amazon; more than 27,000 fires in another biodiversity hotspot, the Cerrado. This is an increase of 145% from 1 January to 20 August 2019, compared to the same period last year.
Who are the fires affecting?
While there’s no denying the implications for the world’s climate, Indigenous and other rural communities are the most immediately affected by the fires. Firmly on the frontlines, Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples are defending the Amazon from destruction, even as Bolsonaro’s dehumanising rhetoric encourages arson and other violence against them.
The effects are being felt across Brazil too. On the afternoon of 19 August, so much smoke was produced that in São Paulo – a city more than 2,700km away from the blazes – the skies turned black.
If this feels apocalyptic, it’s because it is. This is what a climate emergency looks like. The Amazon is a critical carbon sink, vital for mitigating climate change. The fires themselves emit further carbon – the exact opposite of what the planet needs right now.
What does this have to do with us?
Quite a lot. The forests are being cleared for food production – making global companies, governments, and supply chains complicit in turning the Amazon to ash.
Brazil is a key exporter of animal feed, beef and leather. Brazilian soy feeds animals that end up on supermarket shelves and in fast food joints around the world. Global demand for these products is fuelling the fires raging in Brazil’s forests, destroying Indigenous land – with serious implications for all life on Earth.
Brands must distance themselves from the devastation. Major players like Timberland, Vans and North Face have stopped sourcing leather from Brazil, concerned that their products could be contributing to the damage. Others need to follow their lead.
The UK government must also put the Amazon and Indigenous rights first. That means stopping the trade talks currently underway with Brazil’s government, and ensuring any future deal has the Amazon and its people at its heart.
Finally, we as a society should consider our own consumption patterns. The planet can’t afford endless production of meat at the expense of the Amazon Rainforest. Stopping the real damage to the country, its people, and the world’s climate will require hitting Brazil’s agribusiness sector where it hurts.
Take action for the Amazon!
Companies sourcing from Brazil cannot stand by while the Amazon is being torched. They must distance themselves from Bolsonaro’s attacks on critical forests and Indigenous rights.
This is a climate emergency.
Send a message to McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King: “Take a stand against President Bolsonaro’s Amazon destruction. Stop sourcing soya and meat from Brazil until the Amazon and its people are protected”. It only takes a few minutes of your time. Thank you.
Published originally by Andrés Bermúdez Liévano in Diálogo Chino, on October 17, 2019, here; below please find a short update and summary of the killings of environmental defenders in Latin America
In September 2018, Latin America made history by presenting the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters, known as the Escazú Agreement. This innovative pact, the first of its kind, was credited with the potential to reduce social conflicts and protect environmental defenders in the region, the world’s deadliest.
The Escazú Agreement was negotiated for three years under the supervision of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and opened for signatures during the General Assembly last year.
Last weekend, its 21 signatory countries met in San José, Costa Rica, to report on their progress as many countries face urgent crises.
Access to information remains poor, there is widespread impunity for crimes against environmental defenders, and communities’ right to consultation on the impacts of large development projects are often disrespected.
[ … ]
Two countries have stated publicly they will not sign: Columbia and Chile.
Why do environmental leaders need Escazú?
Six of the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defenders are in Latin America: Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru.
48% of 135 communications sent in 2016 to governments and companies on violence against environmental defenders by Michel Forst, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, related to cases in the region.
According to NGO Global Witness, 164 environmental defenders were killed in 2018 globally. More than half of killings took place in Latin America, the most violent region for environmental defenders since they began compiling the report in 2012.
Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico are among the deadliest 6 countries. While Honduras, Venezuela and Chile also recorded murders.
For the first time since 2012 Brazil did not top the list, although it did appear fourth. Guatemala saw the number of murders multiply fivefold, which made it the most dangerous country per capita.
The journalistic project Land of Resistants, which brought together more than 35 journalists from seven countries, investigated the situation facing environmental defenders in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. It found:
At least 1,356 attacks and incidences of violence against environmental defenders between 2009 and 2018 in those seven countries
56% of attacks were targeted at people belonging to ethnic minorities, demonstrating that the territories of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples are especially vulnerable
Conclusive data on sentences (either convictions or acquittals) in just 50 cases (or 3.68% of the total), proving that justice is very unevenly applied. Sentences were mostly given to hitmen or direct perpetrators, not the masterminds behind them.
In at least 545 attacks (or 40% of the total), victims or their communities had expressed security concerns to the authorities, whether state institutions or international instances such as the Commission or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
11 October 2019; written David Dene and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature of Ecuador.
Engineer Steve Emerman’s expert report on the two Tailings dams under construction at the Mirador Mine in the Cordillera Del Cóndor has brought to our attention what could possibly constitute one of the greatest threats upon the sacred headwaters of the Amazon.
In brief, two tailings dams are under construction.
The Quimi dam (63 meters high) is being built in a manner described in engineering terms as critical, or in other words: on the edge of collapse.
The Tundayme dam will be the highest tailings dam in the world (270 meters high). It is being built in a manner which will lead to inevitable collapse.
The following schematics visually demonstrate the dangerous building angle / techniques, being used by Ecuacorriente S.A., or ECSA as it is known in Quito.
The schematics show the angle of construction which is too steep in both cases.
Taking into consideration the seismic activity and extreme rainfall in the area and the upstream construction where the tailings themselves act as part of the dam, we have, in Mr. Emerman’s words, a scenario of inevitable collapse.
Upstream construction has been declared illegal in Chile and in Brazil.
Upstream construction is primarily appropriate in semi-arid zones without seismic activity. If these tailings dam are constructed, they will in all probability collapse.
Two important reasons contribute to this future possible scenario. One is the seismic activity already recorded and present in Ecuador. This worst scenario indicates a 350 kilometer area of the sacred headwaters of the Amazon will be inundated by a tsunami of tailings with toxic materials, which will irredeemably kill and bury all life under poisonous mud.
Another consideration remains the heavy rainfall in the area, which will produce a “run off” from these dead river valleys. This may flow across borders and pollute the River Amazon with heavy metals, cyanide, mercury, arsenic and sulphuric acid, causing slow cancerous bio-accumulation in all species, including human.
The Confederations and NGOs involved in the Initiative to protect these sacred headwaters have a need to know and understand the seriousness of this threat.
We have a case pending in the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court in which the court will have to define the precautionary principle as described in the Constitutional Rights of Nature of Ecuador.
Simply put: Nature has a right to life.
If these dams are built Nature will die.
We are asking for an injunction by the highest Court in Ecuador, in order to stop the building of these dams and review building techniques, in order to build with the highest safety standards commensurate with the Canadian Dam Association’s category of risk from these dams, risk to humans and the environment.
At present, the risk is categorized as extreme.
It is logical and responsible when faced with EXTREME risk to employ extreme caution in building constructions to ensure absolute safety in perpetuity.
It will be beneficial for the rights of Nature, if all people working for the protection of the sacred waters of the Amazon become aware of this: one of the greatest threats that the Amazon has ever faced. It will be beneficial to have all available support in this case, especially from Indigenous Confederations whose mandate is the protection of the sacred headwaters of the Amazon.
This could be a strong pressure on the administration to care for Nature.
Author: David Dene; reprinted with express permission.
The ASHI vision of permanent protection of nearly 60 million acres of rainforest territory in the headwaters of the Amazon has inspired a whole new level of collaboration among the indigenous groups in Ecuador and Peru.
A series of ASHI meetings—attended for the first time by representatives of the various indigenous nationalities from Peru—were held in early 2019. One specific gathering in Peru in March to which many indigenous leaders from Ecuador traveled was particularly significant. The border between Ecuador and Peru had been redrawn in the midst of World War II and it arbitrarily sliced through indigenous territories separating families and cultures.
Various attendees movingly spoke of how this gathering and the vision of the Sacred Headwaters initiative fulfilled prophecies they remember hearing from their grandfathers that one day their people would be united again.
AIDESEP—the indigenous federation representing the Amazonian people of Peru—is now fully on board of the Initiative and is a part of a recently created ASHI governing council. The council is made up of three members from AIDESEP, three from CONFENIAE, one from COICA—the organization representing the indigenous people of all nine Amazonian countries—and three from the NGO partners.
Decisions about budgets, plans and the overall direction of the Initiative are now made by the council. The challenges and the beauty of the operation of such a council are now all being worked out.
Fundraising and International Awareness
This year ASHI has had significant fundraising success receiving nearly $1.2 million in support from international foundations. This financial base is allowing a new and critically important phase of the Initiative to be launched. In late July 2019, an ASHI Commission will meet for the first time. The initial Commission will be made up of 18 international experts in the fields of regional planning, indigenous rights, ecological development, conservation finance, and others. Additional members will be added over time.
The very existence of the Commission will bring national and international credibility and visibility to the ASHI. The work of the Commission will be carried out over the next 12 months with the goal being the creation of an ASHI regional ecological development plan—including long-term financing strategies—that is supported by all of the key stakeholders of the Initiative: indigenous groups, NGOs, and local and national governments.
Original article for further reading published here.
Originally published in New Environmentalist online magazine, here, 3 March 2016; report was edited by Ciprian Diaconita (Environmental & Social Change UK); Maps were produced and provided by Alexandru Beldiman (Rights of Nature Europe); reprinted with express permission from the author
To give you an idea as to the background of Europe’s last remaining oasis in Paraje Natural Karst en Yesos de Sorbas, The Crowd Versus is publishing below part of the entire report which Ion Holban researched, examined, hiked, and published in 2016.
Since then, the situation in the aquifer has only worsened to a level above 400% overexploitation, as indicated in our post of September, link here.
According to Ion Holban, back in 2016, he and others found the following during their exploration and research:
Despite the ecological importance of the area, the park is currently only protected as a ‘Paraje Natural’. This is one of Spain’s lowest levels of protection. We found some economic activity in the Park including traditional agriculture and recently, intensive plantations.
Gypsum and olive oil are the region’s main economy and the park is surrounded by 7 open-cast gypsum quarries including Los Yesares, Europe’s largest gypsum quarry.
Intensive plantations can be found throughout the region, and most worryingly inside the park. Infrastructure in the park is over-developed with a motorway, bridges and several national roads. On top of that there is a high-speed railway through the Sierra Cabrera mountains a few kilometres away, with plans to build additional infrastructure.
In the last 10 years a new types of super-intensive olive plantations, (1,800 trees per ha.), have added an immense pressure on the underground aquifers that feed the park with non-renewable fossil water.
The ancient fossil water aquifer located in the Sorbas-Tabernas basin that feeds the river is severely overexploited, as indicated in the Junta de Andalucía’s Hydrological Plan of 2010, with an index of 330% overexploitation. [ . . . ]
In our trips on the river we came across several areas where the river no longer flows and other areas where it has been fragmented to shallow pools. In particular we found no flowing water outside the villages of La Huelga, Los Giles and only shallow pools around Alfaix and further down, towards Turre, as detailed in the map below.
It is worth mentioning that we completed our walks on the river at the end of winter/ beginning of spring (February and March 2016) when the river flow is at its highest level. In the summer months the flow of the river is further reduced. From our assessment the river no longer has a continuous flow of water and it’s questionable if it can still be considered as a single body of water, fulfilling it’s potential as an ecological corridor.
3 October 2019: First published by RAVEN Trust here; reprinted with permission
This week, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench granted advance costs to Beaver Lake Cree Nation to allow it to proceed with its “Tar Sands Trial” treaty case against Canada and Alberta.
It’s a huge breakthrough for a case that’s been called ‘a gamechanger’ for Indigenous rights in Canada. Now, after years of fundraising and pulling funds from critical community development initiatives to fund the case, Beaver Lake Cree will have the majority of the resources they need to mount a vigorous, well-researched case.
Why? Because the Court ruled that a case that aims to determine just what treaties are worth in the face of rapid industrialization is of “national importance”.
We knew that: and you knew that too. That’s why you donated, fundraised, organized events and spread the word to raise nearly $300K in 2018 for the Beaver Lake Cree to pursue this bold strategy to bring their historic case to trial.
With this advance cost award, Beaver Lake Cree Nation will have the financial resources to pursue a case which could transform “business as usual” in the oil sands, slowing expansion and forcing every project to be evaluated according to impacts on treaty rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Tar Sands Trial would force regulators to consider cumulative effects of industrial development, including fracking and in-situ oil sands extraction. At its core, the case is about upholding the treaties – which enshrine powerful Indigenous rights – ahead of approving projects, such as tar sands extraction, that could render those rights meaningless.
Today, we are one giant leap closer to setting a legal precedent that will uphold the treaties that this country is founded upon.
The RAVEN community stood strong behind Beaver Lake Cree: you should be incredibly proud of the role you played in lifting up the voices of a frontline Indigenous community. Thank you for taking a stand, and drawing a line.
To run a national campaign in support of Beaver Lake Cree RAVEN has teamed up with some amazing partners! The Leap, Cadboro Bay United Church, ENvironnement JEUnesse, Justice Climatique Montréal et Climate Justice Edmonton: we couldn’t have done it without you! A big thank-you also to Greenpeace Ontario and the Climate Action Network.
RAVEN Trust Team
Call to Action:
We crowdfund for this case in Europe! As you can tell, environmental human rights litigation is making progress. Any financial help is always appreciated — especially when you donate on a monthly basis. This makes it easier for lawyers to plan ahead. Litigation, even with all the legal help from people who donate their time, remains expensive. Thank you.
The Crowd vs. Tarsands Mining in Canada
Beaver Lake Cree Nation is challenging the governments of Canada and Alberta for breaking their treaty promises by allowing 19,000 permits for mineral developments (mostly tar sands mining) on their territory. For more information, check here.