Governments falling short on "providing justice" for indigenous peoples

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Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Governments around the world are not doing enough to protect the rights of indigenous peoples or protect them from arrest, torture and even being killed.

That's the view of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, speaking on Monday.

Matthew Wells has more.

With the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues entering its second week at UN Headquarters in New York, Ms Tauli-Corpuz said that human rights defenders were becoming more and more vulnerable as they went about their vital work.

The UN Human Rights Council-appointed rapporteur said that according to NGO figures, more than 180 human rights and environmental rights defenders had been killed during 2015; 40 per cent of whom were from indigenous communities.

She said that defending their rights to land, property and self-determination was crucial to many "so they can freely pursue their political status".

She said that some were being falsely labelled terrorists or oppositional political figures by government agencies; arrested and jailed.

"You have indigenous peoples who are subjected to these harassments, arrests, torture as well as killings, and yet the actions being taken from the side of our governments have not been commensurate in terms of providing justice to the victims and also in terms of arresting the perpetrators."

The rapporteur said that harassment of and violence against peaceful indigenous demonstrators was a problem in developed nations such as the United States, and she recounted a recent visit to the Standing Rock Sioux, who have been protesting a plan to put a gas pipeline through their sacred lands.

She said members of the Sioux tribe had been subject to violent action and "excessive force" on the part of police and security personnel working for private companies.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’26″ 

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