“Consultation with Indigenous Peoples in Costa Rica could be an opportunity and good example for other countries”

By | 28 March, 2012

oacnudh28 March 2012 – San José – Upon completing a visit to Costa Rica, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, recognized as an important step a meeting between indigenous peoples and the Government regarding the Diquís hydroelectric project. During his five-day visit, the Special Rapporteur visited several indigenous territories and met with representatives from several communities that would be affected by the construction of the large-scale dam. These indigenous communities included Boruca, China Kichá, Curre, Coto Brus, Ujarrás, Cabagra, Salitre and Térraba.

The meetings provided an opportunity to discuss the observations and recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur after his first site visit in April 2011 which focused on the issue. Special Rapporteur Anaya also met with Government officials to exchange ideas and insights on mechanisms for consultations with indigenous peoples that would be affected by the Diquís project.

During his visit, the Special Rapporteir participated in the first meeting between indigenous peoples affected by the project and Government authorities. During this meeting, ideas were exchanged regarding the consultation procedure that would take place.

"I consider that this first meeting represents an important step to open a space for possible dialogue. All parties have agreed that it is essential to take specific measures to create an environment of trust that allows for adequate consultations."

James Anaya was encouraged by the Government’s disposition to carry out a consultation process that conforms with international human rights standards related to indigenous peoples as well as with the recommendations in his 2011 report that addressed the situation.

Anaya emphasized that the consultation process must be a legitimate one that is not based on predetermined outcomes but rather one that provides an opportunity for indigenous peoples to freely express their views about the project and consider all options, including whether to proceed with the Diquís project or not.