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UNITED NATIONS | UN expert says rights of indigenous peoples ‘not in a very good state’

UNITED NATIONS, May 2, CMC – A senior United Nations official says the rights of indigenous peoples are being abused by authorities and corporations that want access to their land and the resources.

“The situation of indigenous peoples’ rights is really not in a very good state these days because there are policies and laws used to criminalize them,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2017 session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which began here on Monday, Tauli-Corpuz noted the use of harassment, torture and arrests against indigenous peoples peacefully protecting their property.

She said this is out of line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007, which established a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.

“The main preoccupation of indigenous peoples is really to work on the defence of their land and resources, and protection of the right of self-determination. In their assertion of this right, they are accused of being a terrorist or arrested,” Tauli-Corpuz said.

The UN said the independent expert has just returned from Honduras, where she met with the family of an indigenous right defender killed last year.

She noted the hearings in the case are being delayed and said that there was a “lack of determination from the side of prosecutors to pursue” a case, according to the UN.

Tauli-Corpuz had also recently been in the United States, where members of the Standing Rock reservation are protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

There, she saw indigenous peoples arrested and pounced on by police dogs, the UN said.

These “gatherings are not violent and should not be subjected to this type of force,” Tauli-Corpuz said.

  • Countries: Caribbean