IACHR says prior consultation is key for indigenous rights

The president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Dinah Shelton, said Monday that prior consultation for indigenous peoples is key to ensuring a respect for indigenous rights, state news agency Andina reported.

Shelton made the comments during a presentation on judicial pluralism and indigenous rights, organized by Peru’s Catholic University.

By throwing her support behind prior consultation, the IACHR joins other international organizations, including Amnesty International, in supporting the measure in Peru, not only for projects in the extractive industries but for legislation and government decisions in general that could affect the territories and way of life of indigenous peoples.

In Peru, legislation aimed at improving prior consultation among indigenous peoples is currently in Congress. The bill was approved last year, but rejected by ex-President Alan Garcia over concerns that it could impact key mining and energy projects in the Andean nation.

The legislation is intended to allow Peru to comply with article 6 of the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169, which requires the State to consult indigenous people prior to adopting administrative and legislative measures, as well as investment projects and development plans, that could affect their communities.

“The prior consultation is key to guarantee the rights of indigenous communities,” said Shelton. “It is important to underscore that this consultation should be a dialogue, a negotiation, and not imposed.”

“It is important to provide legal protection to the communities,” she added.

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