The Guardian 2 March, 2005

Global briefs

EUROPE: Up to 480 US short-range nuclear weapons — about double previous estimates — are stationed under US control at air bases in Germany, Britain, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands, US-based environment group the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) said in a new report. The report said nearly a third of them are earmarked for use by air forces of non-nuclear NATO countries. NRDC pointed out that this violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty and "expresses a double standard that conflicts with US and European nuclear non-proliferation objectives to persuade countries such as Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons."

HAITI: At an emergency forum in Port-au-Prince, leaders of the Inter American Press Society, Rafael Molina and Sergio Muñoz, warned that freedom of the press is in great danger in Haiti, and sharply criticised the attitude of the US-backed interim government. The Haitian news agency AHP said the forum was organised in the midst of widespread protest over the January 14 murder of journalist Abdias Jean while he was covering a police action in a working-class neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. Among other incidents: Guyler Delva, Reuters correspondent and head of the Association of Haitian Journalists, has received repeated death threats, and has been sharply criticised by Prime Minister La Tortue's press office. On January 14 two journalists from the newspaper Le Nouvelliste were severely beaten and police threatened and seized film from a team of reporters for a private TV station. The Aristide Foundation for Democracy's radio and television facilities have been closed for eight months without official government explanation.

CANADA: Supermarket giant Wal-Mart has announced it plans to close its first unionised store in Jonquiere, Quebec, since it could not reach a first contract with its 190 workers that would allow it to be profitable. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) National Director Michael Fraser called the closing "clearly a violation of the workers' right to join a union" and said the union will file unfair labour practices charges. The UFCW won certification at the Jonquiere store last August. Early this month the union requested binding arbitration after talks had broken down.

GUATEMALA: The country's constitutional court has halted the trial of 16 soldiers charged in one of the worst massacres during the country's civil war. The court broke legal precedent to declare that a 1996 amnesty law covers massacre cases. Human rights groups called the decision disastrous. Appeals are expected, and other courts are considering similar issues. Over 200 people died in 1982 when a Guatemalan army commando unit burst into the village of Dos Erres, searching for guerrilla supporters. A UN report said the commandos raped local women and used hammers for some killings. Over 200,000 people are estimated to have died during the 36-year civil war, in which the US backed the Guatemalan army.

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