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Peru: Ethnic Groups

Volume 494: debated on Friday 19 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on recent incidents of violence in Peru which resulted in the deaths of 54 people from indigenous groups during an operation by the national police in that country. (281385)

Our embassy in Lima provided reports on protests in Peru’s Amazon over land use legislation, which turned violent on 5 June 2009. EU heads of mission in Lima issued the following statement on 9 June 2009 following this tragic development:

“The EU profoundly regrets the tragic events of recent days in the Peruvian Amazon, in particular the loss of human lives, including more than 20 members of the National Police of Peru and an as yet undetermined number of civilians. The EU sends its condolences to the government and people of Peru and to the families of all the victims. The EU calls for restraint to avoid further violence and for a peaceful and lasting solution to the situation through dialogue.”

The Peruvian Ombudsman has given the number of confirmed deaths resulting from the violence on 5 and 6 June 2009 as 33. 23 of these were members of the police force and 10 were civilians, including four members of indigenous communities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Peru on the establishment of an independent investigation into the recent deaths of indigenous people during incidents of violence in Peru. (281386)

Since the outbreak of violence on 5 June we have urged all sides to avoid further violence and resolve the dispute through dialogue. This has included contacts between our ambassador to Peru together with EU colleagues and the Peruvian Foreign Minister and between our director for the Americas and the Peruvian ambassador to the UK. We are pleased that a formal dialogue mechanism has now been established between the Government and indigenous leaders. We welcome the Peruvian Government’s invitation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People to investigate these events and the decision by the Peruvian Congress to appoint a multiparty Congressional Commission to carry out its own investigation.