Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 21, 2015

UN Denounces Criminalization of Indigenous Community Radios in Guatemala

UN Denounces the Criminalization of Indigenous Community Radios in Guatemala

By Cultural Survival
Dutch translation by Alice Holemans, NAIS Gazette
On May 15, 2015, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) denounced the criminalization of Indigenous community radio stations in Guatemala, after submitting its observations on the country, in Geneva, according to the International Convention on the matter.
"The criminalization of community radio, and subsequent detention of Indigenous journalists and closure of radio stations, which are an integral part in the communication of Indigenous peoples, is a new phenomenon" as explained by American citizen, Carlos Manuel Vazquez, one of 18 independent experts appointed by this Committee, who acted as rapporteur for the Guatemalan case, held in late April, and whose recommendations were made public today.

The Committee highlights how "[m]anifestations of racial discrimination continue to exist across media outlets ... and (there has been) State intervention to permanently close community radio stations especially with the absence of a formal legal framework." Moreover, the Committee has requested the State to preserve "community radio frequencies."
The aggression against community journalists occurs after a number of attacks on "human rights defenders," particularly those "activists," who have spoken on "conflicts linked to the exploitation of natural resources," historically concerning to Indigenous Peoples, the Committee points out.
At the same time, the experts called for the "Free, Prior and Informed Consent" of Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala, after finding "conflict" with the "granting of licenses and authorizations for hydroelectric projects, the exploitation of natural resources, or monoagriculture in the lands and territories currently belonging to Indigenous Peoples and those which have been traditionally occupied by them."
"Such concessions have been granted without respecting the right to consultation with Indigenous Peoples beforehand," said the Committee's report.
"There are bills designed to improve the situation of Indigenous Peoples which have been stuck in Parliament for the past 18 years, also within the Peace Accords (accredited with ending the internal conflict between 1960-1996) it was clearly stated that new community radio stations should be created," explained Carlos Manuel Vazquez.
The Committee listed pending adoption laws, aimed to "formally recognize Indigenous Peoples, languages, spirituality, justice," as the "Indigenous jurisdiction", "integrated rural development", "sacred places", "bilingual, multicultural and intercultural education," as well as the reform of the Electoral and Political Parties Act, and the Mining Act.
The Committee proceeded to condemn "the annulment of the sentence against Efrain Rios Montt," Guatemalan President in 1982-1983 who, in 2013, had been sentenced and imprisoned to 80 years behind bars for genocide and crimes against humanity, that claimed the lives of close to 200,000 people, most of whom of Mayan ethnicity.
The recommendations of the Committee also noted that the State needed to double their efforts to address "the conditions of poverty and social exclusion" and "chronic malnourishment" which some Indigenous People suffer from, before also acknowledging that "access to healthcare remains restricted in areas with an Indigenous Population majority."
Carlos Manuel Vazquez, called for "the adoption of special measures or affirmative action to break the link between poverty and racism," by extending protection from which Indigenous of African descent lack.
Read Cultural Survival's Shadow Report on Guatemala to CERD

Vertaald door NAIS:
Op 15 mei 2015 heeft het ‘Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’ (CERD) de criminalisering van radio stations in inheemse gemeenschappen in Guatemala veroordeelt.
“ De criminalisering van de gemeenschap- radio met de daarop volgende aanhoudingen van inheemse journalisten en het sluiten van radiostations, is een nieuw fenomeen” zegt Carlos Manuel Vazquez, een van de 18 onafhankelijke deskundigen die door de commissie aangesteld werden.
De commissie belicht hoe “manifestaties van raciale discriminatie van radiostations blijft doorgaan... en de inmenging van de staat om gemeenschap radio stations permanent te sluiten, en het gebrek aan een formeel wettelijk kader.” Verder heeft de commissie de staat verzocht om ‘community radio frequenties’ te onderhouden.
De agressie tegen journalisten van de gemeenschap had plaats nadat een aantal aanvallen gepleegd werden op verdedigers van mensenrechten, vooral die activisten die gesproken hadden over“conflicten gerelateerd aan de exploitatie van natuurlijke grondstoffen.”
Tegelijkertijd hebben de deskundigen opgeroepen voor “ Free, Prior and Informed Consent” ( vrije, voorafgaande en geïnformeerde toestemming) van inheemse volken in Guatemala, na de conflicten met toekenningen van vergunningen voor hydro-elektrische projecten, de exploitatie van natuurlijke grondstoffen, of mono agricultuur in landen en gebieden van inheemse volken en de sites die traditioneel door hen gebruikt worden.
“De concessies werden toegekend zonder het recht op voorafgaande raadpleging van de inheemse volken te respecteren,” lezen we in het rapport van de commissie.
“ Er bestaan wetsontwerpen om de situatie van inheemse volken te verbeteren, maar die zitten reeds 18 jaar vast in het parlement, ook in de ‘Peace Accords’, (bevoegd om een einde te maken aan het interne conflict tussen 1960-1996) stond duidelijk dat nieuwe gemeenschap radiostations zouden moeten gecreëerd worden,” aldus Carlos Manuel Vazquez.
De commissie somt de hangende adoptiewetten op die gericht zijn op: “formele erkenning van talen, spiritualiteit, rechten van inheemse volken,” zoals “inheems rechtsgebied”, “geïntegreerde landbouwontwikkeling”, “sacrale sites”, “tweetalig, multicultureel en intercultureel onderwijs,” alsook de hervorming van de electorale en politieke partijen- wet, en de mijnbouw- wet.
In de aanbeveling van de commissie staat ook genoteerd dat de staat hun inspanningen moet verdubbelen om “de omstandigheden van armoede en sociale uitsluiting” aan te pakken en ook de“chronische ondervoeding” waar sommigen inheemse volken aan lijden.
Verder ook moet erkend worden dat toegang tot de gezondheidszorg zeer beperkt is in gebieden met een grote inheemse populatie.
Read Cultural Survival's Shadow Report on Guatemala to CERD

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