IACHR details risks to indigenous peoples across Amazonia and calls for regional protection.

13 October 2019

Following extensive research, including questionnaires to state authorities and civil society representatives as well as its regular hearings, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) published a succinct report on 29 September entitled ‘Situation of Human Rights of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Pan Amazon Region’.

The report concludes that the indigenous peoples of the Pan-Amazon region are under threat of survival and urges the states responsible to adopt jointly bi-national or regional systems of protection.

While Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Surinam all feature, Peru is prominent. This is not only because it is one of the countries with the largest number of indigenous peoples in isolation in the region, but also because significant shortcomings exist in addressing the rights of indigenous groups.

The report finds that many face both rapidly expanding transport infrastructure projects and the intensive development of extractive industries. With few proper environmental impact assessments (EIAs), extractive projects all too often lead to un-remediated oil spills and contamination from mining effluents. Protracted and inconclusive land titling processes, alongside the proliferation of protected areas, has also significantly undermined indigenous territorial rights.

The report summarises the most significant cases brought to the IACHR’s attention in Peru, all of which are familiar to readers of the PSG newsletter. They include:

    • land invasions for palm oil plantation in Santa Clara de Uchunya, Ucayali, with Shipibo leaders suffering intimidation and even killings;

    • gold mining in Madre de Dios affecting Mashco Piro peoples living in voluntary isolation;

    • extensive and long-standing oil spillages in the border region with Ecuador, affecting Awajún, Wampis and other groups in the ambit of Petroperú’s Lot 192 (see PSG article); and

    • the Hidrovía, the most recent IIRSA regional mega-project for dredging four main tributaries of the Peruvian Amazon.

    Across Amazonia the report identifies at least seven basic rights affected: collective property and territorial guarantees; free determination; prior consent; a healthy environment in line with indigenous cosmovision; food and water security; cultural identity; and health. 

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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