A delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) planned a visit to Peru from February 21-24, which included a visit to the territory of the Amazonian indigenous communities of Chiriaco (Amazonas) and Morona and Cuninico (Loreto) who have been affected by the oil spills of the Norperuano pipeline. However, last Friday, less than a week before the visit, the IACHR informally announced to cancel the visit to the indigenous territory.

Indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon have faced oil spills in recent years, which have serious consequences for the life and integrity of indigenous communities, especially for children, women and the elderly. In 2016 alone, 12 oil spills happened. In the absence of an effective response from the Peruvian Government, this situation has been denounced before the IACHR, by the affected people, by indigenous leaders and organizations, as well as civil society organizations, who were hoping to revindicate their rights.

Given the announcement of the visit to their indigenous territories and the possibility of being heard directly by the IACHR, the communities have been making efforts to help transport the affected people and their leaders to the meeting locations, organize a reception and plan for meals, despite the geographical and territorial difficulties of the Amazon. These actions express a level of expectation and organization that must be recognized. The cancellation of this visit by the IACHR is of concern, not only does it ignore these efforts, but also weakens the leadership and indigenous organizations, since these leaderships will be questioned for failing to see this visit through.

With the cancellation, the IACHR loses sight of the doctrine of the Inter-American system to advance the rights of indigenous peoples through an intercultural approach. We are aware of the complexity of any mission, but we believe that the IACHR as an international organization, with an institutional framework must be prepared for different contingencies. Through this, it must provide concrete and effective alternatives to any problem, especially when it comes to indigenous communities and peoples. The cancellation of this visit is counterproductive as it postpones justice for indigenous peoples who are drawing attention to their rights.

The Indigenous Peoples Working Group of the National Coordinator of Human Rights respects and values the mechanisms of the Inter-American Human Rights System. We therefore urge the IACHR to provide a formal response to the motives for the cancellation, as well as alternative proposals to address this situation. This should be communicated to indigenous peoples and their representative organizations.

We emphasize that it is imperative to visit the Amazon for a real assessment of the severity of the oil spills and their consequences in the affected communities. A visit to these areas is essential for the continuity of the work of the IACHR in this area.

Working Group on Indigenous Peoples of the National Human Rights Coordinator:

Secretaría Ejecutiva de la Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos – CNDDHH
Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente – AIDA
Amnistía Internacional
Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos – APRODEH
Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Aplicación Práctica – CAAAP
Comisión de Derechos Humanos, Justicia y Paz de la Vicaría Apostólica de Iquitos
Comisión de Derechos Humanos – COMISEDH
Acción Solidaria para el Desarrollo – CooperAcción
Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales-DAR
EarthRights International – ERI
Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y la Paz – FEDEPAZ
Forum Solidaridad Perú – FSP
Instituto del Bien Común – IBC
Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la PUCP – IDEHPUCP
Instituto de Defensa Legal – IDL
Instituto de Defensa Legal del Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible – IDLADS
Paz y Esperanza
Proyecto Amigo
Red Muqui – Red de Propuesta y Acción
Servicios Educativos Rurales – SER
Servindi –  Servicios de Comunicación Intercultural