The European project against organised crime in Peru has organised training for Peruvian institutions on the investigation of murders of indigenous leaders and human rights defenders in the Amazon region
Training has been carried out in the Amazonian region of Peru for legal operators (Peruvian National Police, the judiciary and the Public Prosecutor’s Office) on the investigation of murders of indigenous leaders and human rights defenders. In response to the concerns expressed by Peruvian political leaders, the EU-funded project to fight organised crime in Peru has organised a training to provide an effective police and judicial response to protect indigenous communities.
In Peru, leaders of native and peasant communities are being harassed and even killed as a result of the activities of extractive companies, territorial conflicts and illegal armed groups for their defence of human and territorial rights. Threats to indigenous communities are made to gain access to the lands of which they are the rightful owners and thus develop economic or criminal activities on them, or to coerce them into collaborating with organised crime organisations.
The European project has scheduled a dialogue between specialists from the European Union and Peruvian institutions – aware that the problems in Europe differ from the specific Peruvian reality – to study European regulations on the protection of Human Rights from the perspective of hate crimes and to compare them with the experiences of neighbouring countries that have signed the Escazú Agreement, a regional instrument that promotes access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The methodologies, special means of investigation, current legislation, inter-institutional and international cooperation tools used in the European Union to optimise the fight against environmental crimes, especially illegal logging and mining, were also presented. The training has responded, among others, to the following demands:
– Legal framework and internationally recognised human rights of indigenous peoples.
– Types of homicides or serious offences against indigenous leaders (political, territorial, cultural).
– Risk factors for indigenous leaders and threats (extractive companies, territorial conflicts and illegal armed groups).
– Homicide investigation procedures (use of technological and forensic resources).
– Protection and prevention of indigenous leaders at risk and collaboration with indigenous organisations.
– Communication and awareness-raising on indigenous rights.
– Case studies of homicides against indigenous leaders.
– Gender impact as a cross-cutting issue (impact on women and girls of kidnappings and related sexual exploitation).
The activity took place in the region of Ucayali, in the Amazon region, where the main indigenous and native communities of Peru are concentrated, and where the problem of threats to indigenous communities is most pressing. The Ombudsman’s Office in Ucayali intervened, pointing out the difficulties faced by the communities and the possible institutional response.
The associations and organisations of native communities (ORAU and AIDESEP) also participated, explaining first-hand the threats they face, proposing legal and practical solutions to mitigate the problem. The member of the Mechanism of the Ministry of Justice, which coordinates resources for the prevention and protection of native communities, also intervened. The Ministry of Culture in the region, which is responsible for the regulation and protection of native communities, also gave a presentation on the situation and the measures adopted by the Peruvian State. Finally, the NGO Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Ambientales (Law, Environment and Environmental Resources) gave a presentation on “The Peruvian Amazon in crisis: What to do in the face of the repeated attacks against human rights defenders?