Haiti: Denounce detention of priest

A lawyer for jailed Father Gerard Jean-Juste last week called the Roman Catholic priest’s detention by Haitian police a flagrant violation of the 1987 Haitian constitution and the United Nations Charter because no charges have yet been brought in the case.

Attorney Bill Quigley told parishioners at Jean-Juste’s church that a number of initiatives are underway outside Haiti to press for the priest’s release, the Haitian news agency AHP said.

Over 2,000 letters, including one signed by 29 members of the U.S. Congress, have been sent to President Bush and Secretary of State Rice, asking them to press the Haitian provisional government to release the outspoken leader for democracy and human rights. Jean-Juste was arrested July 21 after a mob attacked him during funeral services for journalist Jacques Roche. Police said he was a threat to state security.

Britain: Gate Gourmet pickets can continue

The High Court ruled last week that Gate Gourmet workers can continue to picket on the side of the road leading to the factory, but said pickets at the factory gate would be limited to six.

Gate Gourmet, caterer to British Airways, summarily fired 670 workers, mostly Asian women, last week after they struck spontaneously to protest the firm’s hiring 130 lower-paid casual workers without informing the union. The company alleged the daily protests outside its Heathrow Airport headquarters were intimidating its staff.

A spontaneous strike by other airline workers in support of the catering employees grounded hundreds of British Airways flights.

While pointing out that the spontaneous labor actions were not legal under British labor law, Transport and General Workers Union General Secretary Tony Woodley called in an Aug. 16 London Guardian column for banning “crude union-busting techniques” like those of Gate Gourmet’s bosses. He also urged that workers’ solidarity actions be legalized, consistent with ILO conventions.

Colombia: Attacks on indigenous communities continue

In an Aug. 9 communiqué marking International Indigenous People’s Day, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) reported that so far this year, 66 members of the country’s indigenous communities have been murdered, 16 have disappeared, 111 were wounded, 124 arbitrarily detained, 9,250 threatened and 18,602 forcibly displaced.

The ONIC communiqué, reported by Weekly News Update on the Americas, said the food crops of at least 10 indigenous communities had been sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate — used by the government in the U.S.-sponsored campaign against drug cultivation — causing the deaths of two children.

ONIC said the majority of abuses against indigenous people were carried out by right-wing paramilitaries or Colombian government forces.

Mali: UN food agency urges more help for children

In an effort to feed 175,000 more children in the most economically distressed parts of Mali, the UN World Food Program last week nearly doubled its emergency appeal for the West African country to $13.6 million, the UN News Service said.

“The international community must respond now to avoid a humanitarian crisis,” said WFP Mali Country Director Pablo Recalde. “This cyclical food shortage in an already burdened country will only further weaken the livelihoods of rural families unless we act immediately.”

The WFP said it has received only $2.7 million in contributions to its emergency program in Mali, leaving a $10.9 million shortfall.

The program had already been targeting 450,000 people in the hardest-hit areas of the country, which like its neighbor Niger, suffers from extreme poverty, drought, rudimentary farming techniques and desertification. Food shortages are typically most acute in August and September.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel

(mbechtel @ pww.org).