Permanent Peoples Court asks the United Nations to recognize Historical Debt with Indigenous Peoples

Permanent Peoples Court asks the United Nations to recognize Historical Debt with Indigenous Peoples

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The rights of Indigenous Peoples constitute an essential part of the Opinion issued by the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, after its session in Lima, Peru, within the framework of the Peoples' Summit Linking Alternatives 3. The recognition of Europe's Historical Debt for with the original peoples of Abya Yala, represents an advance in the positioning of Indigenous Peoples as leading political actors in regional and global contexts.

The rights of Indigenous Peoples are an essential part of the Opinion issued by the Permanent Peoples 'Tribunal (TPP), after its session in Lima, Peru, within the framework of the Peoples' Summit Linking Alternatives 3. The recognition of the Historical Debt of Europe with the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala, which includes a request to the United Nations to adopt this concept, and the exhortation to the States to take effective measures to respect, protect and promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples, contents in the TPP Opinion, they represent new advances in the positioning of Indigenous Peoples as leading political actors in regional and global contexts.

The TPP hearings were held between May 13 and 14 in three sessions. Witnesses and experts presented the selected cases orally, delivering the supporting documents and answering the questions of the Jury. The session counted with the contribution of two experts, appointed by the TPP, Alejandro Teitelbaum and Juan Hernández Zubizarreta. The Court's deliberation took place behind closed doors on May 15 until the morning of May 16, 2008.
The members of the Jury were: François Houtart (President, Belgium), Vilma Nuñez (Vice President, Nicaragua), Blanca Chancoso (Ecuador), Miren Etxezarreta (Spain), Franco Ippolito (Italy), Edgardo Lander (Venezuela), Francesco Martone (Italy ), Lorenzo Muelas (Colombia), Patricio Pazmiño (Ecuador), Roberto Schiattarella (Italy), Giulia Tamayo (Peru), Alirio Uribe (Colombia), Gianni Tognoni (TPP Secretary General, Italy).

Next, we reproduce the sections of the Opinion of the Permanent Peoples' Court referring to the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Debts to Indigenous and African-American Peoples

We recognize the existence of a historical debt with the original peoples of today called the American continent, generated by the invasion, conquest and colonization of their territories since the 15th century, by the European nations. Not only were the lands seized and the indigenous people were enslaved for work in the mines, plantations and cattle ranches, but there were also massive deaths of native settlers and the vertical cut off of the development process of these peoples themselves. A civilization with its knowledge, its science, its wisdom was erased, of which only traces remain in the rocks or archaeological remains. The senses and many of the values ​​were lost. It is no longer possible to rescue these treasures from oral civilizations. The looting was also a cultural genocide. The indigenous peoples lost the flat lands, having to take refuge in the mountains and in the jungles. These are today the object of looting. There will be a day when they have nowhere to live. They are historically forced displaced persons, which constitutes a crime against humanity. People of African origin, brought to America as slaves to fill the gaps created by the genocide, suffered a similar fate.

The ecological debt that affects humanity as a whole is particularly serious for indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants. The mother-earth (Pachamama), origin of life and therefore inviolable, has been destroyed: rivers are polluted, soils are filled with chemicals, water loses its purity, mixed with pesticides, birds and butterflies disappear of palm and soy monocultures, forests are dying due to global warming, biodiversity is in danger, by extension of livestock, sugarcane, and plants destined to produce biofuels, by mines, by extension oil extraction and road and tourist megaprojects. The fauna loses dozens of its endangered species every year. All this for the immediate benefit of large national and international companies that serve a minority of humanity. Even coca, the most sacred plant for indigenous peoples, because of its power and virtue (wise of the wise), economic and criminal powers have been appropriated to transform it into drugs. It is not the problem of the indigenous and that is why they should not be penalized. The ecological debt is constantly increasing and signifies the condemnation of the disappearance of the majority of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities who could be the best protectors of biodiversity. Justice with these peoples must imply, not only the recognition of such debts, but also the redress and compensation to them.

Examination of cases

The Court also examined several cases related to violations of the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, peoples and nationalities, in which it was denounced:

1 ° The destruction of nature, source and space of life and therefore sacred. It is not only about a physical aggression due to the contamination of the soils and water, the erosion of the lands and the destruction of the forests, but also a moral aggression against the mother-earth (pacha-mama), since she cannot be an exclusive object of exploitation, but must be respected. In the worldview of indigenous peoples, human beings, children of the water and the earth, live in symbiosis with nature from which they take advantage to live. For this reason, its destruction means a lack of respect for life as a whole and, therefore, a work of death. This is what was evidenced, for example, in the case of the company UNION FENOSA of Spain with the SALVAJINA dam in Cauca (Colombia) and in the Anchicaya river, Valle del Cauca, with the destruction of biodiversity and pollution of the Water; with the operations of the MINERA MAJAZ, from Great Britain in the North of Piura in Peru with the destruction of biodiversity and water pollution; with REPSOL, the Spanish oil company, seriously damaging ecosystems in various regions of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina.

2 ° The expulsion of the communities from their lands, often with violence by the army, the police or irregular armed groups. In several cases abuses of authority and even indifference, inaction and sometimes complicity of certain judicial means were also verified. Also, cases of purchase of conscience and co-optation of individuals or communities were found, facts that emerge from various testimonies, such as those presented in the case of the company UNION FENOSA operating in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua, which did not comply with the compensation to which it undertook for the displacement of indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant populations. In the case of SHELL, this Dutch-British company resorted to illegal repression against communities in Brazil and Argentina, in Loma de la Lata and Neuquén; REPSOL was pointed out as responsible for the lack of respect for the rights of the Mapuches Paynemil and Kaxipayin of Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. The SHELL company was also denounced for requesting the same repressive practices against communities that claim their own environmental rights in a European country like Ireland.

Taking into account the serious consequences that the activities of multinational companies tend to generate in the territories of indigenous and Afro-American communities and considering that, in the vast majority of cases, the events generated are irreversible and irreparable, it is essential that the competent authorities take measures to prevent them.


To request the United Nations Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur to present a report to the General Assembly as soon as possible containing the proposal to coin the concept of illegitimate, ecological and historical debt, as well as the qualification of the violations of economic, social and cultural rights against individuals and peoples, by governments, financial institutions and multinational corporations, due to this purpose an International Tribunal for the trial of economic and environmental crimes should be established, before which individual or collective victims can go and become a legitimate plaintiff.

To urge the states and governments of Latin America and the Caribbean to:

• Prompt and efficient access to justice and the respect and priority application of conventions, international covenants, declarations and standards of the ILO and in general of human and environmental rights and of indigenous peoples, communities and nationalities are ensured;

• The judicial system is encouraged and supported with all the necessary resources to carry out processes of investigation and punishment of crimes, in particular those committed in violation of the rights of peoples and communities, achieving comprehensive material and moral reparation for the serious damages and losses caused to the multiple victims of violations of their rights;

• Measures inspired by the internationally recognized principle of free, prior and informed consensus of social actors, local communities and indigenous peoples are applied, as well as the precautionary principle, when it is planned to apply agreements and policies for development and investment of capital. that can produce negative effects on the land, living space and fundamental rights.

Lima, June 24, 2008
Miguel Palacín Quispe
CAOI General Coordinator
Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations - CAOI
Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Argentina

Video: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (July 2022).


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