The Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) has announced that it will hold hearings on 6 October on the supposed relationship between state corruption and the assassination of environmental defenders in the Peruvian Amazon. This is in response to a petition from a coalition of indigenous organisations and international NGOs.

Regular readers of this newsletter will recall stories we have posted on the assassinations in recent years of community leaders and members from the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community (Asháninka people), the Santa Clara de Uchunya community (Shipibo-Conibo), Unipacuyaku community (Kakataibo) and Nuevo Amanacer Hawai (Asháninka).

The petitioners requesting the hearings include the FECONAU and FENACOKA federations representing the Kakataibo and Shipibo-Conibo; the Ucayali regional federation of the national indigenous organisation (ORAU); AIDESEP; Proética, the Peruvian chapter of Transparency International; the Legal Defence Institute (IDL); and Rainforest Foundation United States (RFUS).

They argue that these assassinations are the result of systemic corruption closely linked with illegal logging, palm oil agribusiness, land trafficking and narcotics interests. They claim that Peruvian state agents and institutions have participated actively and decisively in encouraging impunity in judicial proceedings and in raising obstacles to the defence and exercise of indigenous peoples’ territorial rights.

It is worth noting that a vigorous national debate is underway between sectors of the armed forces and the business community on the one hand, and human rights and environmental defenders on the other, as to whether Congress should ratify the Escazú Agreement to strengthen transparency, citizen participation and the right to defend the environment.