UN to hear threats to uncontacted tribes

August 5, 2008

Illegal loggers are one of the biggest threats to uncontacted tribes in Peru. © FENAMAD

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The desperate plight of uncontacted Indians in Peru, some of the last anywhere in South America, has been raised with the UN.

Survival has submitted a report about the threats to the Indians to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), due to meet with representatives of the Peruvian government today.

Survival understands that the Peruvian representatives will request the postponement of their hearing and pledge to submit a report to CERD by the end of the year. Peru’s report to CERD is already ten years late.

Survival’s report states that ‘The Peruvian government is permitting oil and gas exploration in regions inhabited by (uncontacted) tribes, and standing by while other regions inhabited by them are invaded by illegal loggers. The government is failing to uphold the tribes’ rights, and this could lead to the extinction of many of them.’

The report urges CERD to ‘raise these issues with the government of Peru and ask for a concerted effort to recognise the uncontacted tribes’ rights and protect their territory.’

In total, there are an estimated 15 uncontacted tribes in Peru. They are exceedingly vulnerable to any form of contact because of their lack of immunity to outsiders’ diseases.

Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The UN can play a crucial role in applying the necessary pressure to the Peruvian government to do right by the uncontacted Indians living in the remote rainforest. That means recognising their rights, removing the oil companies and loggers, and making sure no one else can invade their land in the future.’

Read Survival's report to the UN. (.pdf file, 604kb)

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru