The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) and APPG Latin America, in conjunction with the Peru Support Group, held a meeting on 7 November on “Indigenous groups in Peru: human rights challenges and opportunities under the new President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK)”.
The speakers were:
- Ismael Vega, Director, Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Aplicación Práctica (CAAAP), which works closely with local indigenous groups – (IV); and,
- John Crabtree, Peru Support Group and Latin American Centre, University of Oxford – (JC).
The meeting was chaired by Baroness Royall, Vice-Chair, APPG Latin America.
The main points made were as follows:
- There continue to be many long-standing concerns in Peru, including the prevalence of corruption and the reliance on an economic model based on foreign direct investment and extractive industries. (JC)
- Mining operations have been the source of constant conflict between mining companies and local communities. (JC)
- Many protestors are labelled as subversives; human rights defenders, particularly those in remote areas such as the Amazon and working with indigenous communities, are in need of protection, as they are particularly exposed to retaliation by companies. (JC + IV)
- PPK won a very narrow majority in the Peruvian Presidential elections in June over his rival, former President Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, and his party only has a small number of seats in Congress – both of which are likely to cause problems in the longer-term. PKK’s cabinet was, however, approved and the new Government got off to a reasonable start. (JC)
- Increased economic growth, fuelled by the activities of the extractives industry, mega-projects and the adoption of mono-agriculture of palm oil and biofuels, has not led to a commensurate increase in environmental protection and safeguards for the rights of indigenous peoples in the territories where investments are made. Social conflict has soared as a result, including in the Andean highlands and the Amazonian jungle. (IV)
- In this light, it is important for UK investment impacts to be carefully examined, including those in connection with the modernisation of the Talara oil refinery linked to a 900 km pipeline which runs through the Amazon, particularly as the UK is the second largest foreign investor in Peru. (IV)
- It is important that the UK Ambassador to Peru goes out to the Amazon on an independent visit to see communities affected by oil spills caused by breakages of the pipeline, with a view to ensuring responsible investment. (JC + IV).
The PHRG will continue to follow developments in Peru, particularly as regards human rights violations and conflict as a result of the activities of the extractive industry, and to raise concerns with relevant interlocutors. It will also encourage and help NGOs and HRDs in Latin America to share their expertise and best practice with each other to address the challenges they face.
More generally, in the light of Brexit, the PHRG will work with other organisations to try and ensure the UK prioritises environmental standards and respect for human rights in future trade agreements.