Government Publishes Consultation Rules

03 April 2012

On 3rd April the Humala administration published details of how the Prior Consultation Law - a measure obliging the state to consult with indigenous groups over extractive projects - would be applied in practice. While the passing of the original law in September 2011 was welcomed by a wide variety of groups, the new regulations have faced criticism from several quarters.

Regulations were purportedly drafted in cooperation with a number of local NGOs and social movements. However, the National Coordinator for Human Rights (CNDDHH), an umbrella organisation of human rights groups, claimed the final version did not tally with agreements reached during the talks. The organisation said the government had added articles to the final text of the law which had not previously been discussed. These included one concerning the maximum period of consultation and another granting exemptions for firms which provide health, education and public services.

Representatives from several indigenous organisations were also highly critical of the new regulations. One particularly contentious issue was whether communities would be granted a veto power over planned projects. Though Indigenous organisations had called for this vociferously, the Humala administration had repeatedly rejected their demands. The government's stance was reflected in the final version of the regulations, which gave the state, not the communities, the ultimate say over projects realised in indigenous territory.

Salomón Aguanashm, a social leader from the Awajún ethnic group, rejected the decision saying that “the government doesn’t side with the indigenous population. For this reason we don’t recognise the published regulations, because they are not consensual and have not been debated.” AIDESEP, which represents indigenous groups in the Amazon region, called the law unconstitutional and threatened to take the issue before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In early April, twenty Quechua-speaking communities also called for consultation to be made legally binding.

Not all indigenous groups were so critical of the new regulations, however. Eduardo Nayap of the Awajún community, for example, declared his support saying they represented “a step forward in improving the quality of life of indigenous peoples”.

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