Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: Saweto Testifies Before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Diana Ríos testifies before the IACHR today regarding delays in the Peruvian judicial system that are denying her community justice.
Started working in 2005
42 indigenous communities supported through partners or direct support
Secured land titles to 150,000 hectares
Approximately 59% of Peru is covered by forest, including more than 68 million ha of tropical rainforest across the Amazon and Andes.
Peru is the 9th most biodiverse country in the world with approximately 7% of known animal species and 6.3% of known plant species, of which 7,590 plant species and 725 animal species are endemic to Peru’s unique ecosystems.
Peru is home to around 5 million indigenous people representing 55 distinct ethnicities speaking 48 languages. There are 2,434 registered indigenous communities, almost half of which are located in the Loreto region. At least 20 indigenous peoples living in the Peruvian Amazon continue to live in voluntary isolation.
Indigenous peoples’ land rights are recognized in Peru under Decree Law 22175 of 1978, which has facilitated approximately 24% (13’881,756 ha of forest) of the Peruvian Amazon to be titled to indigenous communities.
Meanwhile, 778 indigenous communities remain vulnerable without secured legal rights to their traditional lands.
Peru’s forests – which store 28.4 Gt of carbon – are among the most deforested in the world. Between 2001 and 2019, Peru lost 3.12 million hectares of tree cover (or 4%) to deforestation, resulting in 1.48Gt of CO₂ emissions. 2 million of those hectares were primary rainforests, amounting to a 2.8% decrease in Peru’s total primary rainforest. In 2019, Peru was third in Latin America and fifth worldwide of tropical countries that lost the most primary forest that year.
The main drivers of deforestation in Peru are illegal logging (accounting for 66% of lumber exports), small-scale agriculture, gold mining, infrastructure development, oil and gas drilling, and increasingly palm oil plantations.
According to Peruvian Law 29763, deforestation is prohibited in indigenous territories. But increasing pressure for intensive land uses often results in illegal intrusions on indigenous lands, sparking violence and intimidation against indigenous forest defenders.
Rainforest Foundation US focuses its work in Peru in the eastern and northeastern Amazonian regions of Loreto, Ucayali, and Madre de Dios.
RFUS and indigenous partners are designing and implementing initiatives to influence national and international policies related to human rights, climate crisis mitigation, and long-term positive change. Through unprecedented justice, the democratization of technology and information, and financing, RFUS provides evidence-based strategies for effective rainforest protection at scale.
Our current initiatives in Peru include:
RFUS supports more than 40 indigenous communities, five indigenous federations, and one regional representative indigenous peoples’ organization to implement a co-designed territorial monitoring program, called “Information Into Action,” using emerging data and technology to quickly detect and report illegal deforestation. The program has seen documented success in achieving reduced deforestation and is now scaling up across the region.
RFUS has spearheaded the exploration of a unique and potentially game-changing system using blockchain technology to financially support indigenous communities through conditional payments for results for forest protection and restoration work. This program is being implemented in several pilot communities, and will be scaling up in 2020 and beyond.
In addition to continued support for the Justice for Saweto Campaign, RFUS is collaborating with the research, evaluation, and learning network EGAP (Evidence in Governance and Politics) to produce evidence of reduced deforestation as a result of its community-based territorial monitoring work, which will serve multiple advocacy uses in the coming years.
RFUS supports ORPIO’s Centro de Información y Planificación Territorial, or CIPTO–the first territorial information and planning center providing tools and resources to indigenous peoples to monitor, measure, verify and report on the status of their forests. RFUS also facilitates relationships among indigenous communities, Peruvian government officials, and private enterprises to support impoverished communities to improve collective governance and improve livelihoods through sustainably produced and directly marketed products.
Since 2014, the RFUS legal team has been leading an emblematic, unprecedented case to prosecute and convict the architects of the 2014 massacre of four indigneous leaders from the indigenous community of Saweto by illegal loggers. The ongoing Justice For Saweto campaign elevates this case in the public domain, allows the leaders to continue to combat rampant illegal logging in the area, and ensures that the community has the necessary financial support to remain safe as they carry out their advocacy and defense.
Rainforest Foundation US is working around the clock to provide indigenous communities with a range of assistance to manage the COVID-19 crisis, including information and communication, humanitarian support, medical supplies, and economic opportunities
On August 31st, 2014, four Asheninka leaders were killed by illegal loggers. Rainforest Foundation US is supporting their families as they seek justice. Learn more and follow the #JusticeforSaweto Campaign.
RFUS and Regen Network have partnered with the indigenous community of Buen Jardin de Callarú in Peru to pilot a blockchain platform that will drive direct financial support to the community for protecting the Amazon rainforest.
Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.
Organization of the Indigneous People of the Eastern Amazon (Organización Regional de los Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente, or ORPIO) is the indigenous peoples’ representative organization in the Amazonian department Loreto, Peru, representing indigenous peoples and 430 communities. ORPIO engages in protecting their territories, promoting human development, and defending their rights and indigenous governance.
Executor of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve Administration Contract (Ejecutor del Contrato de Administración de la Reserva Comunal Amarakaeri, or ECA-RCA) ECA-RCA represents 10 indigenous communities along the buffer one of the of the world’s most biodiverse protected areas. ECA co-manages the communal reserve with the National Protected Areas Service of Peru (SERNANP) ensuring the conservation of biological diversity and the benefit for its associates.
The indigenous Asheninka community of Saweto, located in eastern Ucayali, suffered from the massacre of their leaders by illegal loggers in 2014. RFUS leads the legal representation of Saweto, while also facilitating their land titling and security.The Justice for Saweto campaign aims to ensure the Saweto issue remains visible and to help raise the necessary financial support to ensure the community and the widows remain safe. RFUS coordinates with multiple national and international governmental and non-governmental allies to support this effort.
Daniela supports the overall administration and financial and operational management of Rainforest Foundation US’s work in Peru, with a recent focus on supporting the program’s COVID-19 response. Prior to joining Rainforest Foundation, Daniela was a supervisor at the Casa Andina hotel network in Peru, providing staff and management oversight of large teams. She holds a Master’s in Business Management from the Universidad San Martin De Porres. She is a native Spanish language speaker and is proficient in English.