Michel Forst, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, said that “it is necessary to strengthen the institutions of the Republic in order to improve the process of policy making and the relationship between the State and citizens.”Mr. Forst told reporters that strengthening these institutions will give them the means and resources to carry out the mandates entrusted to them. This was the 12th visit to Haiti for the expert, who will present his report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council on 20 March. During his mission, he met with a range of actors, including government officials, lawyers, mayors, the leadership of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and representatives of civil society. After visiting the prisons of Gonaïves, Jeremie, Saint Marc and Port de Paix, Mr. Forst noted that overcrowding in detention centres is still a major problem and it constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He stressed that resolving this problem must include addressing the issue of prolonged pre-trial detention. The expert also noted that the holding of a fair trial in the case of former President Jean-Claude Duvalier is important to show the population that justice works in Haiti, and that impunity will no longer be tolerated for the most serious crimes. “The appearance of former President Jean-Claude Duvalier before the judges of the Court of Appeal in Port-au-Prince in this regard is a victory for the rule of law,” he stated.Independent experts are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.
In a recent article on water management in mining timed to coincide with its inaugural Water Report, BHP President Operations, Minerals Americas Daniel Malchuk comments: “Sustainable mining is a complex enterprise that depends on three things – people, the environment and technology. This trifecta requires a healthy dose of capital, whether it be social, environmental, geological or financial. We aim to strike a good balance between all four when it comes to effectively managing water resources. Without water, our business simply could not operate. And without water, the communities we operate in wouldn’t survive.”He adds: “That’s why minimising our impact on water resources and forging strong ties with the local communities where we operate are vital. Transparency across all sectors is crucial to effective water governance. Our inaugural Water Report…is the first step in our long-term plan to do our part and more effectively disclose our water use and performance as we strengthen water management across our operations.”“The report is based on the International Council on Mining and Metals water reporting guidelines, which set a transparent minimum benchmark for disclosure. This helps us and others monitor and hold us accountable for our progress. In FY2017, we announced a new five-year water target of reducing fresh water withdrawal by 15% across our operated assets. Reducing fresh water use is critical as this is generally the most important water resource for our host communities and the environment. In FY2018 we achieved a 2% reduction against this target. However, we still have a way to go.”“Over in Chile, our Escondida copper mine has made a significant contribution to water preservation. In April this year, we inaugurated the largest desalination plant in South America to supply water to our copper operations. The desalination plant involved the construction of a 180 km water transport system to reach the Escondida copper mine. Four high-pressure pump stations move water from the Port of Coloso across the Atacama Desert and up to a reservoir at the Escondida mine site, more than 3,000 m above sea level. The facility is one of the largest desalination plants in the world and Escondida’s second plant. The first plant has operated for the past decade and produces 525 litres of water per second.”The new plant has the capacity to produce 2,500 litres per second of fresh water. “It not only secures a sustainable water supply for our operations, but minimises our reliance on the region’s aquifers. The sheer scale of this project, along with the $3.4 billion of funding, demonstrates our commitment to preserving fresh water and making every drop count. Industry cannot rely on groundwater in the long-term given it is a vital yet limited resource for communities and the environment. Since Escondida first started 25 years ago, our environmental standards have increased and we have stronger connections with our indigenous communities. But we also face many challenges through increasing expectations from workers, communities, regulators and government that match those of developed economies. And yet, our industry must stay competitive, particularly as resource quality (grade, hauling cycles, hardness, etc) naturally deteriorate over time.”“While the strategy will have a significant impact on Escondida’s production costs in the near term, we are convinced that today’s challenge is tomorrow’s opportunity. We can best compete globally if we make the most of what we have – and that includes water.”“In Australia, at Olympic Dam, we are improving water efficiency in all aspects of our operations and beyond. We’re working closely with the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI), a program introduced by the Australian Government in 2000 to reduce the impact on springs as a result of water extraction in the region. Since 1999, Olympic Dam has worked with GABSI and neighbouring landowners to decommission or replace bores, or provide reticulation systems to reduce water losses. As a result, Olympic Dam has contributed to 235,000 megalitres in cumulative water savings for the region.”“Water management has long been part of BHP’s governance, risk and operational practices. The shared nature of water resources means we must think ‘beyond the fence’ and work more closely with communities, government, industry and other stakeholders. Increased pressure on water resources means we must do more – to responsibly meet water needs today and safeguard water supplies for future generations. This is not only for our future, but the future of the local communities and the environment where we operate.”