James Anaya’s preliminary observations upon conclusion of visit to Peru
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, acknowledged the cooperation of the Peruvian Government and the information provided with respect to laws, policies and programs on indigenous issues. He also highlighted the collaboration of the United Nations Development Programme that enabled his visit and also expressed his gratitude to the indigenous peoples for invited him to their territories, for their hospitality and for sharing their stories, concerns and aspirations.
Anaya said that next week he will review the extensive information collected during the visit in order to prepare a report and a series of recommendations. This report will be published and submitted to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in 2014, with a view to identifying best practices and reforms in relation to ILO Convention No. 169. However, the Special Rapporteur stated some initial comments. Above all, he believes that since his visit in 2009, following the situation in Bagua, there has been progress on indigenous issues and with respect to the extractive industries. ‘Today, Peru is one of the few countries in the world that has a law on consultation with indigenous peoples´, he said. Still, Anaya also reported that several indigenous representatives did not agree with aspects of the law and its regulations of 2012. Anaya concluded that the great challenge for the future is to ensure the implementation of consultation in accordance with international standards, and even though progress has been made towards the implementation of prior consultation in Peru, these remain in an early stage. To Anaya, the government is still in the process of building their capacity to implement the consultation on methodological, logistical and budgetary terms. In this sense, for him the creation of an atmosphere of mutual trust is vital, since indigenous peoples have suffered over the years the devastating consequences of extractive projects in their territories, causing a deterioration of the relations between indigenous peoples and the state. In this context, Anaya rescued the role of the National Dialogue and Sustainability Office of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Moreover, the Rapporteur noted that indigenous peoples have indicated not be against development, but in favor of a development in line with their right to land and natural resources. As examples of negative experiences with natural resource extraction, Anaya mentioned the situation of indigenous peoples in the basins of the Pastaza, Tigre, Corrientes and Marañón rivers. "I've been able to verify myself the serious environmental problems in this area because of the oil industry," said Rapporteur while describing that this includes pollution of water bodies and soils used by indigenous peoples of the region. On this issue, Anaya highlighted that environmental contamination from the oil industry over the past four decades represents a critical situation that must be addressed urgently. Regarding the proyect Camisea on the lot 88, he concluded that it represents good practice from the point of view of nature conservation and biodiversity, and yet another matter is with respect to social and human impact on the communities Machiguenga, Nahua, Nanti and other communities living in the reserve. Anaya understands that these populations are extremely vulnerable and that both the government and Pluspetrol company should not proceed with the proposed expansion without first conclusively ensure the non-violation of their human rights. To this end, Anaya recommended the government to undertake a comprehensive study involving all stakeholders and relevant experts about the presence and condition of uncontacted indigenous groups in lot 88. In addition, he urged the government to undertake a process of consultation with indigenous peoples before making the decision to extend the exploitation project , taking into account the particular characteristics and conditions of vulnerability of populations at initial contact. In this sense, Anaya noted the decision and desire of the Nahua community of Santa Rosa Serjali to partake in the decision making process, while they also complained about the lack of basic services of health, education and drinking water by the state . Regarding mining, he warned the divergent positions between indigenous communities and the Ministry of Energy and Mines, situation that Anaya will continue to consider along with the concerns of communities regarding pollution not remedied after mining projects. The Rapporteur also noted that another key factor is the informal and illegal mining in small-scale, on which the Government should ensure a process of formalization through the registration of workers and by a greater state presence in areas where it is being developed, strengthening the mining regulatory framework. Finally, in respect to the claim of repression against protests linked to extractive projects, Anaya held that the prosecution of indigenous peoples should not be used as a method to suppress freedom of expression, should only be carry out in cases where there are evident facts of criminality. In this sense, ´Peru must work to strengthen its efforts to provide the means for indigenous peoples to submit complaints to the State´, concluded.