On Thursday, Chile’s National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI) submitted a proposal for an indigenous consultation law to the Human Rights Committee in the Senate. It comes after a series of recent protests arising as conflict has escalated between the Mapuche indigenous groups and police.
The law hopes to open more dialogue between the government and indigenous communities to improve land conditions as well as human rights abuses.
According to the Santiago Times, CONADI director, Jorge Retamal stated that the “document is very important for the country and for our native people”.
Social Development Minister, Joaquín Lavín, presented the proposal with Rematal on Wednesday at the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) headquarters in Santiago. The proposal hopes to directly address land use, based on the ILO’s Indigenous and Tribal People’s Convention 169, which was ratified in 1991. The convention was originally created to ensure that natives could “exercise control over their own institutions, ways of life and economic development and to maintain and develop their identities, language and religions, within the framework of the States in which they live”.
The proposed law hopes to replace the current law, Decree 124, which has been said to not be up to Convention 169 standards. The current law was enacted in 2009, yet the indigenous communities and other groups claimed that they were never consulted beforehand.
This new law would address a wider range of social issues. The executive director of Amnesty International Chile, Ana Piquer, explained how “[these] policies range from the social aspects, to security to development” and also emphasised how the right to consultation was important in Chile especially with current projects that impact the land rights.
“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,” she added.
This proposed law comes after last week President Piñera announced his “Plan Araucanía” which hopes to address the various challenges that face the Chilean Mapuche. The Plan includes a school, hospitals and compensation for indigenous members who were attacked by Carabinero police.