Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
Indigenous Peoples' Rights
LONDON - In a candid report named, "Sacrificing Rights in the Name of Development: Indigenous Peoples under Threat in the Americas," Amnesty International "calls upon leaders in the region to take decisive and urgent to fulfill their obligations to defend and protect Indigenous peoples' rights."
Amnesty International is a global movement that has over three million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end the abuses of human rights.
The 16-page report to the dichotomy of "development vs. Indigenous peoples' rights" is widespread in both North America and South America. Amnesty International draws attention to a dozen countries, including the United States and Canada.
According to the report: "the dichotomy is based on the flawed argument that extractive or other development projects that serve national interests by increasing national wealth and generating jobs cannot be 'obstructed' by Indigenous peoples who are 'just' a fraction of society. Thus, when Indigenous communities organize themselves to demand respect for their rights, the state and other actors accuse them of blocking the growth of the entire country."
The report further states: "frequently laws are passed and development projects are carried out without respecting the right of Indigenous peoples to be consulted and to give their free, prior and informed consent. These cases are the tip of the iceberg of a regional trend."
Amnesty International calls upon leaders in the region to take decisive and urgent action to fulfill their obligations to defend and protect Indigenous peoples' rights. In particular, governments should, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples:
A short overview of how twelve countries in the Americas are dealing with concerns of indigenous peoples in their respective countries.
In the overview for the United States, the report highlights the high rates of sexual violence perpetrated against American Indian and Alaska Native women are at epidemic rates - more than one of three Indigenous woman will be raped in their lifetimes and nearly 86 percent of the perpetrators are non-Native men.
In July 2010, Congress passed the historic Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 to begin addressing issues of public safety in Indian Country and giving survivors of sexual violence a better chance of obtaining justice. Introduced in response to concerns raised by tribal organizations, the law seeks to improve coordination between law enforcement agencies and takes steps to restore tribal resources and authority.
In December 2010, President Obama formally announced the long-awaited US endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Congress is now undergoing a process of review to evaluate the domestic policy implications of endorsing and ensuring compliance with the Declaration.
Despite the overall high standard of living enjoyed by most Canadians, Indigenous peoples experience widespread impoverishment and deprivation. A 2010 government study found that for some Indigenous communities the gap in education, jobs, income, and housing is actually widening. An estimated 20,000 people in First Nations communities across Canada have no running water or sewage.
A Parliamentary committee has called for a comprehensive plan of action to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous women in Canada are three to five times more likely than non-Indigenous women to die as a result of violence. The government response has been piecemeal at best. Police are not even required to systematically record whether or not the victims of violence are Indigenous.
posted August 15, 2011 7:55 am edt
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