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PERU
Indigenous consultations in limbo
12/4/2008
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Norm contradicts indigenous rights for land sale and use with unbinding vote proposals.

The commission-level approval in Peru´s Congress of a bill that would make previous consultations of indigenous peoples for projects on their land sparked harsh criticism from rights groups that call it counter-productive for native peoples.

The National Human Rights Coordinator, an umbrella group of organizations, said in a statement that the bill, approved Nov. 11 by the Andean, Amazonian, Afro-Peruvian Peoples, Environment and Ecological Commission said that the bill strips the consultations of their purpose since it would not give the communities a final say on what activities take place on their lands.

The National Confederation of Peruvian Communities Affected by Mining, which has strong ties to the country´s indigenous communities, complained that the bill has not in the least recognized the concept of consulting indigenous peoples for these projects.

The organization sent a letter to Peru´s 120 lawmakers, pointing out that the proposed law does not recognize Convention 169 on indigenous peoples of the International Labor Organization, and urged the Congress not to present this version of the bill for a full vote, complaining that it does not provide the legislative and administrative frameworks necessary for projects that could affect the lives of indigenous peoples.

“The right to consultation must be carried out not only to fulfill Convention 169 of the ILO, but as an ethical, ethnic and cultural issue,” said Alicia Abanto and Ana Palomino of the Public Defender´s Office in a seminar on consultations in Congress in November. “The state is not empowered to impose a development model that does not respond to [indigenous] social and cultural needs.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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