At issue here is Peru’s recent Law 30723 that promotes road building in Amazonia regardless of legitimate concerns of indigenous peoples, especially those living in voluntary isolation.
With the support of SPDA, the Peruvian Society for Environmental Rights, the indigenous organisation FENAMAD brought a test case in 2018 specifically to protect the Cacataibo of the Ucayali region, who live on the frontier with Brazil.
In authorising the inquiry, the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement’s Council of Environmental Affairs has broken new ground in monitoring the compliance of national environmental law with what is essentially an international arrangement designed to promote investment.
In May this year, the Council accepted FENAMAD’s case because Peru had not observed requirements for prior consultation in its own legislation, specifically Law 28736, which protects the rights of indigenous peoples at an early stage of contact with society.
The next stage is a detailed investigation of the case which SPDA regards as an important step in reinforcing environmental standards in the FTA between Peru and the United States.
In January 2019, Tani Pariona, Nuevo Perú’s member of Congress, commented that Peru potentially faces commercial penalties if found to have infringed the FTA’s environmental standards: “connecting a bilateral legal instrument for promoting commerce and investment (which recent governments have focused on protecting) potentially expands the protection of indigenous peoples in the sense that no action by either country can violate the recognised rights of these peoples”.