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Colombian Court Upholds Rights of Indigenous Community
The Constitutional Court of Colombia (CCC) has upheld a 2009 decision on the suspension of the mining project Mande Norte in the Pacific coast of Colombia.
The Muriel Mining Corporation (MMC) was taken to the Colombian Courts by Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in Jiguamiandó, Chocó (Northern Colombia) for failing to properly consult with them before its Mandé Norte copper-gold-molybdenum exploration project in the area. The project was set up to explore and extract minerals on collectively owned Indigenous and Afro-Colombian land. It had immediately led to the militarization of the area and widespread human rights abuses.
The Court ruled on October 29, 2009 that the proper consultation process for Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) under Colombian law (ILO Convention 169*) had not been adequately implemented by MMC. The decision added that in the case of large-scale development or investment with a major impact on Afro-descendent and Indigenous territories, their prior consent must be obtained in accordance with their customs and traditions.
On May 9, 2012, the Constitutional Court rejected an appeal made by Muriel Company and the Government of Colombia against the 2009 decision, and upheld its ruling.
This important victory for indigenous communities of Northern Colombia set a key precedent for future mining and other extractive industry projects that may affect local peoples’ tenure rights. It also illustrates a shining example of a case where the implementation of FPIC.
*Convention No.169 is a legally binding international instrument open to ratification, which deals specifically with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. To date, it has been ratified by 20 countries.
Posted By David Robeck at 12:14pm on May 17, 2012
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