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Laws in Peru protecting indigenous peoples’ rights to participate in the decision-making process on oil, gas and mining projects are less advanced compared to those of neighboring countries, warned international humanitarian organization Oxfam America.
The Andean region, abundant in natural resources, is home to a large number of indigenous and tribal communities. These communities often receive little prior notice or consultation before their land is invaded to feed the world’s appetite for oil, gold and other minerals. A new report released today by the Due Process Law Foundation, with support from Oxfam America, analyzes the effectiveness of international human rights laws coupled with prior consultation laws in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
“Persistent poverty is as abundant as natural resources in these areas. While the extraction of these resources could play a role in the socioeconomic development of these territories, transnational companies instead move in and out with little notice, generating violent conflicts and threatening the rights and livelihoods of local communities instead,” said Rocio Avila, officer with Oxfam America’s oil, gas and mining program.
According to the findings outlined in The Right of Indigenous Peoples to Prior Consultation, Bolivia and Ecuador’s recent constitutions broadly incorporate the rights of indigenous people and Colombia has developed extensive jurisprudence on the subject. The Peruvian government however, has not made domestic laws consistent with international standards. Following the Bagua incident in 2009 when 33 people died, Peru’s national congress passed a prior consultation law, but the executive branch didn’t approve it.
“Nearly half of social conflicts in Peru stem from the lack of prior consultation, yet the government has not adopted an adequate law to require consultation,” said Emily Greenspan, Oxfam America’s policy advisor. “It’s time for the Peruvian government to pass stronger laws in order to diffuse tensions and protect the rights of local communities.”
The report recommends that Peru’s government incorporate consultation rights in its constitution and restore dialogues between the government and indigenous peoples.