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Attacks against and criminalization of indigenous peoples defending their rights
by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
Sep. 2018
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is gravely concerned at the drastic increase in attacks and acts of violence against, criminalization of and threats aimed at indigenous peoples, particularly those arising in the context of large-scale projects involving extractive industries, agribusiness, infrastructure, hydroelectric dams and logging.
These violations are occurring in the context of intensified competition for and exploitation of natural resources, as observed during country visits and reflected in the increasing number of relatedallegations. In several countries, increased militarization adds to the threats against indigenous peoples.
The Special Rapporteur has therefore decided to prepare a thematic report to draw attention to the escalation of these concerns. The focus of the present report is on the distinctive characteristics of attacks against and criminalization of indigenous peoples defending their rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and under human rights treaties, with emphasis on violations occurring in the context of development projects.
In the report the Special Rapporteur considers the collective and individual impact on indigenous peoples and assesses the effectiveness of prevention and protective measures, identifying good practices and prevailing challenges with regard to protective measures for indigenous peoples.
The Special Rapporteur notes that indigenous peoples are subjected to criminalization in a range of contexts including structural racism and discrimination, areas which may be the subjects of future analysis and reports.
In accordance with the mandate, the Special Rapporteur has continuously addressed in her country reports, communications to Governments, press releases and other public statements concerns over indigenous leaders and members of indigenous communities, and those who seek to defend their rights, who are subject to undue criminal prosecution and other acts, including direct attacks, killings, threats,intimidation, harassment and other forms of violence.
* Access the 20 page report via the link below:
Sep. 2018: Statement by the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council 39th Session:

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Malnutrition, child deaths plague India''s tribal people
by Thomson Reuters Foundation
Sep. 2018
Malnutrition, child deaths plague India''s tribal people, by Roli Srivastava
India''s indigenous children are far more likely to die or suffer from malnutrition than those from other communities, according to the first government study on health among tribal groups.
Among indigenous communities, 57 out of every 1,000 children die before age five, compared to 37 deaths in other social groups, according to the report released last week.
The national average for malnutrition among children is 35 percent, while researchers found that 42 percent of indigenous children are underweight.
Researchers examined health conditions for India''s 104 million indigenous people, and called for resources to be directed specifically towards improving healthcare and food security among the country''s 705 tribal groups.
"Most states do not have funding for tribal health, nor is there any separate account of how money (from the health budget) has been spent on them," said Abhay Bang, a physician and public health expert who headed the research.
The government should allocate 8.6 percent of its annual budget for improving conditions among tribal people who account the same percentage of India''s population, the report recommended.
The researchers pointed to a number of challenges that indigenous people have in accessing healthcare and adequate food.
Almost 90 percent of the country''s tribal people live in rural areas, which are often in rugged and remote regions where doctors are reluctant to serve, the researchers said.
Many communities have been "robbed" of food, shelter and livelihoods due to "deforestation and forest laws that limit access to forest produce," according to the report.
Campaigners have called for better protection for tribal lands.
"These are traditional and free sources of food, but they have depleted," said Milind Thatte, founder of Vayam, a charity that works on tribal development. "Conserving these resources and giving tribals rights over them will go a long way in improving their health," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Tribal homelands have been eroded over the past few decades with the development of mines and major infrastructure projects say campaigners. Floods and famines have also taken a heavy toll on indigenous communities, forcing many to migrate, the report pointed out.
Migration often undermines nutrition among children, because they are deprived of the free meals provided by the government in schools and daycare centres in their home villages, the researchers found.
Some 146,000 children from tribal communities die each year, according to the report, which cited a study from 2011, the last year that data was available.
Sep. 2018
Uncontacted tribes at risk amid ''worrying'' surge in Amazon deforestation, by Karla Mendes
Ilegal loggers and militias cleared an area three times the size of Gibraltar in Brazil''s Amazon this year, threatening an "uncontacted" indigenous tribe, activists said on Tuesday.
Satellite imagery collected by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a Brazilian advocacy group, detected about 4,600 acres (1,863 hectares) of deforestation this year in the Ituna Itata indigenous land in northern Para state.
"This situation is very worrying," Juan Doblas, senior geo-processing analyst at ISA, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"There is a series of risks, not only to indigenous territories of uncontacted tribes, but also to other indigenous territories in the area."
The indigenous affairs agency Funai and the federal police were not immediately available to comment. The environmental protection agency Ibama said in a statement that official data on Amazon deforestation will be released in November.
Brazil''s uncontacted tribes, some of the last on earth, depend on large areas of unspoiled forest land to hunt animals and gather the food they need to survive.
They are particularly vulnerable when their land rights are threatened because they lack the natural immunity to diseases that are carried by outsiders, rights groups say.
Forest loss in Ituna Itata - from which outsiders were banned in 2011 to protect the uncontacted tribe - spiked to about 2,000 acres in August from 7 acres in May, said ISA, which has monitored the area through satellites since January.
South America''s largest country is grappling with scores of deadly land conflicts, illustrating the tensions between preserving indigenous culture and the pressures for economic development.
ISA filed a complaint in April to federal and state authorities about forest destruction and illegal logging in the area during the rainy season, which is unusual, said Doblas.
"It was a sign that something very serious was going to happen," he said. "It was a preparation for the invasion."
The environmental protection agency Ibama responded by sending in patrols in May, which temporarily halted the logging, he said, adding that ISA plans to file another complaint this week, using updated data and satellite images.

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