Peru Gov’t Says Will Address Concerns In Prior Consultation Law

Peru’s Deputy Intercultural Minister, Ivan Lanegra, said Monday that the government will guarantee that the final text of the Prior Consultation Law will deal with concerns and take into account proposals made by indigenous communities, state news agency Andina said.

The Prior Consultation Law was enacted by President Ollanta Humala during a ceremony in the jungle town of Bagua, a gesture in recognition of the protests in 2009 that led to the death of 24 policemen and 10 indigenous people in a confrontation that analysts say could have been avoided if a prior consultation policy had been in place.

The law —recognizing Peru’s signing of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169— is intended to give indigenous communities the right to an opinion on development  projects in their areas.  The law is expected to help prevent the social conflicts that have arisen in recent years over major mining and energy projects.

The government has said it the law improve dialogue between private investors and indigenous communities.

However, a number of indigenous organizations have raised concerns recently that the regulations draft does not take into account the interests of communities and has parts that are unconstitutional. They are calling for the government to rework parts of the law.

“It is surprising because you have to remember that it was these same organizations that asked for the approval of the law not so long ago,” said Lanegra. “Now they say that the law that they promoted goes against the Constitution, which to me is very surprising.”

The law is not taking into account the points agreed on during six macro-regional meetings, according to Alberto Pizango, a leader in Aidesep, while Gladis Vila, a leader of the Andean and Amazon women’s organization, says there was too little time between the national encounter and the approval of the draft to “systematize the balances and distribute the draft the authorities for a final revision.”

Pizango was a major player in the Bagua protests in 2009 and sought asylum briefly in Nicaragua when the government considered accusing him of sedition.

The groups that have opposed the current law include Aidesep, which is Peru’s biggest indigenous group, as well as the National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining in Peru, or Conacami, the National Agrarian Confederation, or CAN, and the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Women, Onamiap.

The final regulations on how to implement the law are expected to be ready soon.

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