MAC: Mines and Communities

Rio Negro High Court Orders Protection for the Rights of Indigenous Communities Facing Mining

Published by MAC on 2005-08-18
Source: Diario Judicial

CODECI's presentation concerns mining project Calcatreu, of Canadian company Aquiline Resources.

Río Negro High Court Orders Protection for the Rights of Indigenous Communities Facing Mining Operations

Thursday, 18 August, 2005

The Superior Court of Río Negro, Argentina has ordered the provincial administration to protect the rights of indigenous communities threatened by mining operations on their lands. Luis Lutz, Victor Hugo, Sodero Nievas and Alberto Balladina, members of the Court, accepted the appeal for legal protection presented by the Development Council of Indigenous Communities (CODECI) and ordered various Rio Negro government organisms to carry out a series of efforts to respect the cultural and social heritage of the indigenous communities who live in the zones where the mining operation Calcatreu is projected to be carried out.

Regarding the appeal presented by CODECI, the Rio Negro government entity in charge of maintaining the rights of indigenous communities of the province, the court said that "when there is a possibility of preventing presumed risk or potencial collective damage to the involved indigenous communities, it is appropriate to give legal protection under the power of the local and federal law, in representation of unnamed persons."

CODECI's presentation concerns mining project Calcatreu, of Canadian company Aquiline Resources, who intend to carry out exploration of lands inhabited by indigenous persons, and plan future mining operations of mineral deposits there, without taking into account the rights of the inhabitants. The judges stated that the in the Calcatreu project "there are rights and guarantees committed to the indigenous communities and their human resources, their environment and their habitat, in additon to treaties and conventions on which they are based and the laws which serve them."

Furthermore, the Superior Court asserted that in the project "there have been omissions, negligence, procedural delays, lack of coordination and marginalization on the part of the administration, against both the indigenous communities whose essential rights are affected, as well as CODECI in their dual role as official organism of the Ministry of Government and as an institutionalized space for the government-popular joint management of the establishment and implementation of political decisions".

"This isn't a minor matter, rather it is of utmost institutional importance and crucial for the existance of both a society and a State which is plural, democratic and egalitarian," said the judges. They also stated that the mining project is advancing "without respect to the legal and constitutional norms, nor international law, which gives protection to indigenous communities, their natural resources and their environment, these communities should be informed, consulted, have a role in the management of these resources and in respect to their ethnic, cultural and social heritage." Towards this end, the court sustained the appeal for legal protection and ordered provincial administrative organisms to intervene in the project to "respectfully observe and apply the current laws with regards to ethnic plurality; to respect to the social and cultural heritage; preservation of natural resources and the environment; information, consultation and participation of indigenous communities of the entire affected area".


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