Indigenous organisations petition Peruvian government to protect the rights of isolated peoples before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights

AIDESEP, FENAMAD, DAR and the National Human Rights Coordinator
By
Amazon Watch

Indigenous organisations petition Peruvian government to protect the rights of isolated peoples before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights

On 1 November 2013 indigenous and civil society organisations from Peru including FENAMAD, AIDESEP, Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR), and the National Human Rights Coordinator presented evidence in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission.

The petitioners documented the failure of the Peruvian government to provide effective protection for isolated indigenous peoples in Peru.

A subsequent press release issued by AIDESEP noted that “it was unfortunate that the State evaded the denunciations and responded with an indolent and monotonous list of their laws and regulations, in full knowledge that these are not complied with…".

The press release noted that the IACHR responded stating that it is simply not enough to list these laws but the State must also demonstrate that they are complied with and that they protect the lives of these peoples which are under threat”.

The evidence presented included the state’s failure to implement measures to protect isolated peoples in Reserves that have been officially created and the continued violation of their territories (many of which are overlapped by oil, gas and logging concessions). 

This is despite the fact that in 2007 a specific law requiring implementation of policies and plans to protect isolated peoples was passed by Peru’s Congress.

The petition focused specifically on the case of the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Territorial Reserve (KNNR) which is threatened by the massive expansion plans of the Camisea gas project within Lot 88.

These plans include the construction of 21 exploration wells, the construction of a 10km flowline and hundreds of kilometres of seismic testing all within a Reserve which is supposed to be off limits to such activities.

The presentation emphasized that the formal observations issued by the Vice Ministry of Intercultural Affairs (VMI) in May 2012 concluded that the health, traditional economic activities and ways of life of the indigenous peoples in ‘initial contact’ and ‘voluntary isolation’ (‘isolated peoples’) in the region will be severely impacted by the expansion plans and two of them, the Nanti and the Kirineri, could be made ‘extinct.’

However, in an embarrassing u-turn the report was withdrawn shortly afterwards in suspicious circumstances, while 3 senior figures at the VMI resigned.

Approval for the expansion plans is still pending the decision of the VMI, which remains imminent.

The petitioners requested that the Peruvian government modify the law for the protection of isolated peoples in accordance with international human rights law and the principle that the territories of isolated peoples must remain off limits to economic activities.

They also insisted on the annulment of all concessions which overlap the territories of isolated peoples and in the case of the KNNR they demanded measures to protect isolated peoples in the face of the operations within Lot 88.

Daysi Zapata, Vice President of AIDESEP concluded the presentation with the following: 

“There are laws, protocols and plans but these are simply decorative while the reality is one of abandonment and threat. We would make the state responsible if an isolated brother were to die and we request the IACHR to take urgent action in defense of life.”

Further information: 

Inter-American Commission hearing on isolated indigenous peoples
Inter-American Commission hearing on isolated indigenous peoples
By
Amazon Watch
Vice President of AIDESEP
By
Amazon Watch