Protection but no prevention? Inputs to the Ministry of Justice’s Protocol on Human Rights Defenders in Peru

Stand With Uchunya
Stand With Uchunya

Protection but no prevention? Inputs to the Ministry of Justice’s Protocol on Human Rights Defenders in Peru

FPP and IDL call upon the Peruvian Government to Address Drivers of Criminalisation and Violence Against Indigenous Land Rights Defenders

This submission to the ongoing process to create a Protocol to Guarantee the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, led by the General Directorate for Human Rights within the Peruvian Ministry of Justice, emphasises the need to address the underlying structural drivers of criminalisation and violence towards human rights and land defenders in Peru, as well as the importance of designing protection mechanisms in a way which supports Indigenous Peoples’ efforts to defend and exercise their collective rights over their territories.

In this position paper, IDL and FPP call upon the Peruvian Government to work proactively to promote the valuable work undertaken by human rights defenders, with particular emphasis on Indigenous Peoples’ defence of their collective rights, including the rights to free, prior and informed consent, autonomy and self-determination. This paper and a parallel report submitted to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) in March 2018 highlights that Peru is still failing to take adequate measures to address and prevent the land conflicts which underpin threats to indigenous land defenders in the Peruvian amazon.

The authors also emphasise the need to provide public resources to support Indigenous Peoples’ ability to administer justice within their own territories and provide collective forms of protection through community-based systems for early warning, prevention and protection.

Amongst the structural drivers which allow for the criminalisation of human rights defenders by the State, IDL and FPP also highlight the existence of at least 150 contracts between the National Police and extractive companies, the government’s frequent declaration of ‘states of emergency’ to enforce the activities of extractive industries and laws which enable the criminalisation of social protest.

The Protocol is being developed following the publication of Peru’s National Human Rights Plan 2018 – 2021 in February 2018, which included commitments to create a register of human rights defenders in situations of risk by 2019 and a protection mechanism for human rights defenders by 2021. IDL and FPP note in their submission that the Protocol has not been consulted with Indigenous Peoples themselves and therefore it ought to contain a mechanism allowing this to take place before 2021.

FPP and IDL’s recommendations build upon the Declaration of Yarinacocha, which was issued by Shipibo and Kichwa communities and organisations from across the Ucayali and San Martin regions of the Peruvian Amazon in January 2019. In this joint declaration, they called upon the Peruvian Government to implement immediate measures to resolve the escalating land grab of indigenous territories and the resulting destruction of forests and threats to human rights and land defenders. 

Further background may be found in the recent report, Dynamics of Dispossession: Drivers of Violence and Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, released by IDL, FPP, the Ethnic Council of the Kichwa Peoples of the Peruvian Amazon (CEPKA) and the Federation of Native Communities of the Ucayali (FECONAU).