Supreme Decree Approved to Strengthen the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

This Thursday, 22 April (2021), the Supreme Decree that creates the Inter-sectoral Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders was published, a legal tool that seeks to guarantee prevention, protection and access to justice for human rights defenders in the face of situations of risk.

“We welcome the request of the indigenous leaders themselves, the human rights defenders themselves. The Peruvian government has created through the supreme decree of eight ministries a more efficient mechanism that allows a reaction to the threat to this group of people. The goal is to prevent more indigenous leaders from being assassinated”, said Eduardo Vega, Minister of Justice, at an event related to insecurity in the Amazon.

For his part, the president of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (Aidesep), Lizardo Cauper, indicated that although this is an important step forward, it must be reflected in concrete actions. “This measure comes after a continuous demand from the indigenous organisations and their allies, and this motivates us to continue fighting. For us it is welcome, but it is the implementation that is important. With its approval, the threats and murders will not stop, that is why we will continue to be vigilant”.

According to the Vice-Minister of Human Rights and Access to Justice, Daniel Sánchez, the supreme decree addresses the problem from three dimensions. Firstly, prevention, so that the authorities understand the active role and the role of risk they have. Secondly, rapid protection. That is, as soon as the authorities are informed of a risk to a human rights defender, the state must respond immediately. Before the approval of this mechanism, these actions were the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Justice; however, since the approval of the supreme decree, there is a specific function that obliges the police to intervene when there is a situation of real risk to a human rights defender. And finally, a third dimension, which is access to justice and thus putting an end to impunity.

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[Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA)]