The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has issued additional observations regarding the process undertaken in Honduras for regulating prior consultation. These observations are part of the technical assistance that the Special Rapporteur has provided, at the request of the Government of Honduras, in connection with the preparation of a draft law on prior consultation. Following this request, in December 2016, the Special Rapporteur published her Commentary on the Draft Framework Law on Free, Prior and Informed Consultation of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Peoples(in Spanish only) which pointed out problems with the substantive content and methodology used to develop and socialize the Draft Law.
At the invitation of the Government of Honduras, the Special Rapporteur carried out a working visit to Honduras from 17 to 20 April 2017 to follow up on the recommendations made in her Commentary and to meet with representatives of the Government, indigenous peoples and organizations, private enterprise, trade unions, civil society, the international community, the United Nations System and other stakeholders involved in this initiative on prior consultation. During the working visit, the Special Rapporteur noted that her previous recommendations had not yet been implemented.
In the present additional observations, the Special Rapporteur delves into a number of issues that emerged during her working visit and which should be addressed in order to ensure that the discussion and drafting process of a legal instrument on prior consultation guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples under international standards. Among other issues, the Special Rapporteur discusses the need to ensure greater participation by the different indigenous representative structures and ensuring training and preparation for indigenous peoples, State officials and other actors; the need to build the trust necessary for addressing the core human rights concerns of indigenous peoples; the time pressures for the adoption of a consultation law; and her concerns over the restrictive interpretation of the legal framework on prior consultation.
The Special Rapporteur urges all parties to assess whether the right conditions exist for the rapid approval of a prior consultation law, given the procedural and substantive problems she pointed out. She considers that the process of development, discussion and consultation of this type of initiative requires the necessary time and preparation to ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights are recognized and protected in accordance with applicable international standards. Said process should serve to empower indigenous peoples, providing them with the necessary space to make their own proposals on the right to consultation and consent from the standpoint of their own cultural and community perspectives.
The Special Rapporteur hopes that an inclusive process of dialogue and discussion on the regulation of prior consultation can be carried out in Honduras which enjoys the highest degree of legitimacy and consensus among indigenous peoples. She hopes that the State, the international community and international organizations, including the United Nations System in Honduras, and in particular the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, work together with indigenous peoples in undertaking the necessary dialogues to develop this type of initiative.
The Additional Observations can be accessed by clicking here (in Spanish only).
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