IACHR demands move on prior consultation

18 January 2015

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has demanded that Peru commits itself fully to the principle of informed prior consultation, both with respect to highland indigenous groups as well as to indigenous tribes living in the lowland jungles of the Amazon basin. Peru has been dragging its heels on implementing fully legislation that will give indigenous groups the right to be fully consulted before extractive projects are allowed to begin operations on their territories.

Shortly after the Humala government took office in 2011, it passed legislation on prior consultation. President Humala’s predecessor, Alan García had previously vetoed such legislation, arguing that it would deter foreign investment. The detailed regulations implementing the law were published by the government in April 2012.
There have been five processes of prior consultation initiated so far, all of them in the Amazon region, of which two have to do with the establishment of protected areas.

There have been no instances so far of prior consultation in the highlands of Peru, nor have any indigenous groups from the highlands been formally included in the database of those that might benefit. In 2013, the Vice-minister of Inter-Cultural Affairs, announced there would be prior consultation with respect to the creation of a number of regional conservation areas in the highlands, mainly in Cuzco. But nothing more has been done about this or, indeed, is seemingly envisaged.

Behind the scenes, there has been fierce opposition from mining companies to extending the idea of prior consultation to mining concessions in the highlands. Business groups argue that this will simply delay the initiation of projects and, consequently, the eventual export and fiscal revenues to which these may give rise. For its part, the Humala government – and in particular the Ministries of Energy and Mines (MEM) and of Economy and Finance (MEF) – have been seeking to remove (rather than add to) what they see as red-tape that slows down investment flows and makes Peru less attractive as a destination for foreign investment.

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