Peru: Ombudsman Urges Peru's Congress to Recognize Indigenous Rights

Date of publication: 
3 December 2014

Peru’s government is urged to recognize indigenous communities’ rights to free, prior, and informed consent.

As Peru still does not guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples on their ancestral lands, the country’s Ombudsman Eduardo Vega asked the Congress to correct this Wednesday.

Vega stated that the legislators needed to debate a reform guaranteeing rights recognized by International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169, signed by Peru in 1994. ILO 169 establishes the rights of indigenous communities for free, prior and informed consent for any development project that could affect their land or territories.

He deplored the inefficiency of the current legal system of the country, which he said was recently exposed by the assassination three months ago of Ashaninka leaders from an Amazonian community by hunters wanting their lands.

However, this community has not been granted property titles yet, despite the political will recently expressed from First Minister Ana Jara to provide such titles, added Vega.

For this reason, “a legal reform that could respond quickly to the requests of entitlement of thousands of native and farmers communities” is an urgent matter, he argued, as well as the modification of current regulations in order to insure better consultation mechanisms with these peoples.

The ILO Convention gives a special focus to consultation and participation, and stipulates that governments shall have the responsibility for developing coordinated and systematic action to protect the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples (Article 3) and ensure that appropriate mechanisms and means are available (Article 33).

Meanwhile, the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 20) is currently taking place in Lima, Peru, and for the first time with the participation of indigenous representatives of the world.

Indigenous leaders have demanded in particular the allocation of property titles in order to protect their ancestral lands, mostly forests, which are important tools to counter the effects of global warming.

Last October, Vega had already expressed his concern to First Minister Jara about the judicial insecurity that affects the land rights of farmer and native communities of Peru.