Peru’s rural, campesino and indigenous communities remain disproportionately much poorer than the rest of society. Although poverty rates have decreased substantially in the last decade (from 58.7% in 2004 to 22.7% in 2014 according to official figures), the percentage of people living in poverty is still larger in rural areas, particularly where Indigenous communities live and also in some areas where extractive industries operate. 48.8% of poverty is concentrated in rural areas, which represent nearly a quarter of the total population in Peru. Growth projections are vulnerable to uncertain external economic conditions, such as the prices of commodities, as well as natural environmental risks, such as the effects of El Niño on agricultural production and access to basic services.
Social and environmental conflict continues to be prevalent in the country, with reports of use of excessive force by security forces an issue of concern. According to the Ombudsman’s office, 58 civilians died and over 1,000 people were injured in clashes between security forces and protesters between 2012 and 2015. Impunity is the norm in cases where police and security forces are involved in dealing with protests. In January 2014, a law was passed that effectively makes it impossible to hold police officers accountable for those who use lethal force unlawfully.
Social conflict is also often triggered by the failure of the authorities to effectively involve indigenous communities in prior consultation. Although Peru adopted a law on consultation in 2012, there are still concerns about its implementation: who gets consulted, how agreements or decisions are reached, and how these are implemented in practice. Frustration over lack of adequate consultation and lack of inclusion often precipitates conflict.
Human rights defenders and community leaders often face routine legal harassment, especially when they are perceived to being involved in social protests. Activists that work for the protection of the environment, land and territories, particularly around sites where natural resources are extracted, are most at risk.
Peru is one of the three most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change, with its water supply largely dependent on Andean glaciers. Access to water is frequently an aggravating factor in disputes over extractives.
Lord Brenan QC
Ann Clwyd MP
Linda Fabiani MSP
Reverend Ed O'Connell
Professor William Rowe
Rosemary Thorp CBE
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