The Working Group on Indigenous Peoples of the Peruvian Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos has subscribed an uprising in which it denounces repeated breaches of Agreement 169 of the OIT on Indigenous Towns on the part of the Peruvian state and is sorry that “the democratic arm of the US Congress has displayed a greater concern for the quality of life of those Peruvians who are most marginalized, than does same Peruvians’ own government”.
Peruvian Government does not Respect International Labour Organization Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries
The Democratic Party within the US Congress has demanded a revision of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Peru on the grounds that there exist insufficient safeguards for the environment and labour rights within Peru. In particular, the Democrats have criticized a particular clause within the current FTA which states that parties to the FTA are obliged to respect the labour laws in other member countries regardless of content. The Democrats, in contrast, have suggested replacing the clause in question with a requirement to respect the principles established by the ILO, such as the prohibition of child labour and slave labour, and a general prohibition against discriminatory labour practices. In addition, they argue that there is a need to explicitly include as a princinple of the FTA, respect for human rights, notably the right of free association and the right to establish and participate in labour unions.
Faced with the concern presented by the Democrats of the US Congress regarding the lack of consideration and implementation of various ILO Conventions within Peru, el Group sobre Pueblos indígenas (Indigenous Peoples Lobby), member of the National Coordinator for Human Rights, expresses its concern and reminds both the national and international communities of the following:
Despite the Fact that the Government of Peru ratified ILO Convention number 169 in December of 1993, and adopted its principles into domestic legislation via Legislative Resolution number 26253, the Peruvian Government has repeatedly violated the Convention in the 14 years since ratification.
ILO Convention 169 establishes in article 6, subparagraph (a) that in applying the provisions of this Convention, Governments shall: Consult the peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, whenever consideration is being given to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them directly. Nevertheless, the Government does not comply with this obligation as is demonstrated by the case in which the Ministry of Energy and Mining ceded the territory of indigenous peoples to Peru Petro without any type of consultation with the communities concerned, thereby endangering both their human rights and the physical environment in which they live.
Ultimately, instead of consulting with the communities, the majority of mining companies simply informs the community of decisions already taken, and in such sessions generally uses highly technical language that does not permit a genuine dialogue between the community and the company concerned.
The situation has turned from bad to worse with the recent adoption of Law 014-2007-EM, which modifies the current legislation regarding environmental protection and mining activities. The modifications weaken the already weak participatory mechanisms of indigenous peoples that are established by law.
The extraction of oil and gas generates various forms of pollution and endangers the natural resources of the community. The case of the Achuar community who lives alongside the River Corrientes in the Amazons and whose water source and environment in general have been seriously harmed by the activities of Plus Petrol, is indicative of the gravity of such contamination.
The pollution caused by mining and other extractive activities is so bad in some areas that communities have been forced to move, isolating themselves in areas far from the reach of the extractive industry. The recently established law 28736, which allows for the concession of natural resources within reserves, further threatens the survival of communities in areas where extractive activities are planned, and suggests that voluntary isolation is likely to become the norm rather than the exception.
The lack of attention paid by the Government of Peru to ILO Convention 169 is demonstrated by the recent merge of the National Institute for the Development of Andean, Amazonian, and African Peruvian communities with the Ministry of Women and Human Development. The merge occurred without any consultation with the communities affected.
The systematic and continuous violation of its commitments established in ILO Convention 169, leads one to assume that the Government of Peru does not consider seriously its international obligations towards indigenous peoples. Sadly, the Democratic arm of the US Congress has displayed a greater concern for the quality of life of those Peruvians who are most marginalized, than does those same Peruvians own government.
The Working Group on Indigenous Peoples of the Peruvian Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos