New law threatens uncontacted tribes

Illegal loggers pose one of the biggest threats to Perus uncontacted tribes.
Illegal loggers pose one of the biggest threats to Perus uncontacted tribes.
© FENAMAD

The existence of some of the world's last uncontacted tribes has been threatened by a new law passed by the Peruvian government.

Although its nominal purpose is to protect the country's isolated Indians, and it acknowledges that contact with them could lead to their extinction, the law explicitly permits the exploitation of natural resources on land inhabited by them.

'There exists a double standard in the law that contravenes all the principles of human rights,' said a spokesperson for AIDESEP, Peru's Amazon Indian organisation.

The Peruvian government is actively promoting oil and gas exploration on land inhabited by the tribes, and many of their territories have also been invaded by illegal loggers.

In total, there are an estimated fifteen uncontacted tribes in Peru. Because of their isolation, the tribes do not have immunity to outsiders' diseases and any form of contact can be fatal for them.