|Scooped by Harry Grant|
Justice Denied to Indigenous People Affected by Mining | Guatemala- Frequent conflicts had been repeatedly ongoing due to Guatemala’s mining sector. These conflicts caused an increase in threats, criminalization and violence in the past recent months. Despite having over 400 mining licenses issued and more than 700 pending, the tension was caused by lack of respect for free, prior and informed consent.
The country’s highest court upheld the 1997 Mining Law against a constitutional challenge brought by the Western Peoples’ Council (CPO) for lack of prior consultation with indigenous peoples, reported by Guatemalan national press last March 1 of this year. Finally after the complaint was filed, the ruling comes out and it is against Guatemala’s international human rights obligations. It also represents a hold up from a 2011 Constitutional Court decision that ruled in favor of the right of Guatemala’s indigenous majority to consultation on legislative proposals that could have an effect on their lands and natural resources. Guatemala is obliged to respect the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent for any project that could adversely impact them, and to consult with them before passing laws or administrative initiatives that would affect their rights this is all under Guatemala’s Peace Accords, the American Convention on Human Rights, and as a signatory to the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, as well as having endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Western People’s Council, or CPO, will now forward this case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The CPO is a coalition of indigenous authorities and institutions from seven departments of Guatemala. They have already well thought-out nearly 60 community referenda. This referendum will give indigenous communities the right to vote and decide whether or not to accept development projects on their lands.