Peru: UN expert on indigenous rights calls for dialogue after deadly mining protests

6 July 2011

An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged the Peruvian Government and indigenous leaders in the country’s southeast to hold peaceful dialogue to resolve the deadly conflict over mining and oil development.

At least five people were killed and more than 30 others were injured late last month in the city of Juliaca following protests over the mining, according to a statement issued by James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Media reports state that indigenous Aymara people living in the department of Puno, close to Peru’s border with Bolivia, have been protesting for weeks over mining operations in their area, saying it will pollute their ancestral lands.

In his statement Mr. Anaya stressed the need for dialogue “in good faith” between the Government and the indigenous leaders, and for authorities to consult with local indigenous peoples to tackle any problems associated with the mining.

“It is necessary that all parties respect the right to life and other fundamental human rights and ensure that the legitimate protests of indigenous peoples to defend their rights, and the response by law enforcement, do not create situations that endanger the lives and safety of protesters and other citizens,” he said.

Mr. Anaya, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, called on the Government to clarify the deadly clashes in Juliaca on 24 June, “and to proceed diligently to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible” for the deaths of the five people.

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