Congress passes indigenous’ consultation law
State must seek a previous consultation of native communities on projects that could potentially affect their land, well being and ways of life.
Peru’s Congress approved on May 19 a law that would require the state to consult indigenous communities before any project that could affect the integrity of their lands, well being and rights is approved.
The consultation, however, is not binding.
The vote came nearly a year after violent clashes between police and indigenous demonstrators in the northern Amazon city of Bagua, who were protesting a series of investment decrees that would open their land to large-scale investment without their consent. Thirtythree people died in the clashes.
In 1994, Peru ratified the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 on indigenous peoples that calls for previous consultations over any project or law that affects their lands and rights, but Peru did not follow this or incorporate it into its own laws.
In a joint statement, indigenous and campesino organizations applauded the new law, calling it “the first step in the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights.”
“This requires, however, a strong commitment by the state to guarantee the implementation of this law and to ensure the inclusion of our people in national development,” said the statement, signed by the Inter-Ethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Amazon and the Confederation of Amazon Nationalities of Peru, among others.
Indigenous organizations in Peru railed on a proposed change to a bill requiring that native peoples be consulted before projects that adds language expressly saying that the consultations are not binding. The addition was a request of the government that was accepted by a congressional committee. The International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 on indigenous peoples, which calls for the consultation, does not say it must be binding, lawmakers argued. The bill faces another debate in Congress. —Latinamerica Press.