Americas - Governments must stop imposing development projects on Indigenous peoples
“They never consulted with us, they never told us… that this was going to have… so much negative impact, …that it was going to cause so much conflict.” -- Carmen Mejía, an Indigenous woman from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, describing Goldcorp Inc’s Marlin mine in Guatemala.
In a short report to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August), Amnesty International is calling on all governments of the Americas to respect the right of Indigenous peoples to make their own decisions about economic development activities on their lands.
The brief cites examples from throughout the Americas where governments have failed to carry out robust consultations to determine how plans for mining, oil and gas development and other development activities would affect the rights of Indigenous peoples. The brief also cites examples of such projects being carried out despite the clear objections of the affected peoples.
• In Guatemala, Indigenous Mayan communities affected by the operations of a Canadian mining company, Goldcorp, were not properly consulted at any stage in the planning and operation of the mine.
• In Colombia, claims that Indigenous peoples were consulted over construction of the El Cercado dam were rendered meaningless by a pattern of serious human rights abuses committed by paramilitaries, guerrillas and security forces, including destruction of homes, killings of community leaders, and the eventual forced eviction of many Wiwa communities off their lands.
• On Vancouver Island, British Columbia the lands of the Hul’qumi’num people continue to be bought and sold without consultation or consent, despite an ongoing, unresolved treaty negotiations that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has said are too slow to meet international standards of justice.
Amnesty International’s new brief states that economic development is a legitimate goal and can be instrumental in advancing human rights. However economic development should not be pursued at the expense of the human rights of Indigenous peoples.
The brief calls on all governments to establish clear and fair mechanisms and procedures, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to guarantee the right to robust, meaningful consultation and free, prior and informed consent.
The brief also calls on corporations not to carry out projects which may affect Indigenous peoples if governments have failed to respect the rights to consultation and free, prior and informed consent as established in international human rights standards.
Amnesty International Canada
613-744-7667, ext 236