August 17, 2012

Mapuche: Proposed Law Presented to Senate

A proposal for an indigenous consultation law has been submitted to the Chilean Senate’s Human Rights Committee on 9 August 2012, which is the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.

Below is an article published by The Santiago Times:

Chile’s National Corporation for Indigenous Development (Conadi) presented a new proposal for an indigenous consultation law to the Senate’s Human Rights Committee on Thursday [9 August 2012]. The proposal falls on the U.N.’s “International Day of the World’s Indigenous People” and follows weeks of unrest in southern Chile between government authorities and indigenous Mapuche protesters, who have called for more autonomy in their communities.

The proposal was first presented by Social Development Minister Joaquín Lavín and Conadi Director Jorge Retamal on Wednesday [8 August 2012] at the U.N.’s International Labor Organization (ILO) headquarters in Santiago. The proposal would allow prior consultation between the government and indigenous communities and associations on land uses, based on the ILO’s Convention 169 which states that natives should be consulted on measures “which may affect them directly”.

“This document is very important for the country and for our native people.” said Retamal.

Retamal said the new consultation law would replace the current consultation law, Decree 124, which Mapuche groups and human rights organizations have deemed insufficient.

“This new ruling, which we hope to have approved by the end 2012, will abolish the 2009 Decree 124, which was not consulted by the indigenous communities and associations.”

Ana Piquer, Executive Director of Amnesty International Chile highlighted the importance of consultation between governments and natives.

“It is essential that all policies affecting indigenous people are determined within the frame of a dialogue with them,” she said. “These policies range from the social aspects, to security to development.”

“The right to consultation is very relevant in our country when we consider all the projects with are currently being executed, or plan to be,” she added. “For example, in the context of the Mapuche conflict, the right of consultation is crucial when solving conflicts such as the long term problems of land restitution.”

The proceedings of how the law will be passed have not yet been confirmed. According to Marcial Colil, president of the Conadi Consultation Commission, this is “due to the fact that the convention is a human rights treaty.”

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