The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ended this Wednesday an official visit to Peru expressing her conviction that the country can overcome the challenges it faces in terms of fundamental guaranteesfinding the way “towards a more inclusive future”.
Michelle Bachelet indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for the Peruvian population, which registered the highest mortality rate per capita in the world, with more than one death for every 20 people infected – or 5% of those infected-. The total number of deaths so far amounts to 213,825, although at this point 84% of the population has already received the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“The pandemic exposed the deep gaps and inequalities socioeconomic conditions of Peruvian society, and its effects threaten to last for years. It hit the rural environment very hard, the most disadvantaged classes and the most marginalized and discriminated groups”, said Bachelet at the end of her three-day visit to the South American nation.
remembered that schools were closed for almost two years and that only now are students gradually returning to face-to-face classes, a situation that particularly affected schoolchildren in remote areas without internet access.
The war in Ukraine is another external factor that affects Peruvians with the high prices of food and fuel, which have placed 15.5 million people in a situation of food insecurityaccording to UN data.
© UNICEF/Jose Vilca
Expand protection measures
Faced with this scenario, Bachelet urged the expansion of socioeconomic protection measures focus on the most marginalized people.
“Support small-scale agriculture and prioritizing helping people so they can leave the informal labor market are clear ways to build back better,” he said.
The High Commissioner highlighted the exacerbation of polarization that has occurred in recent months and expressed concern about the advance of anti-rights movementswhich include hate speech and xenophobia, and warned that discrimination and violence could be exacerbated by the upcoming elections in October.
With respect to journalistsunderlined the importance of their work, warning of the harassment they suffer in the performance of their work, particularly in the case of women.
Of indigenous peoples and human rights activists, he noted that they are on the front lines when it comes to the impacts of climate change and other threats, such as illegal mining, illegal logging and drug trafficking, especially in the Amazon region.
Therefore, they should be considered allies in efforts to tackle impunity enjoyed by criminal groups. Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation are also affected by illicit activities”, he pointed out.
He acknowledged that mining and other extractive industries have been fundamental to Peru’s economy for centuries, but regretted that the promises of development by companies in the sector do not benefit affected communitiesespecially indigenous peoples and rural populations.
In this sense, Bachelet considered that the agreements to address the social discontent caused by extractive projects “must be based on prior consultation, ensure the protection of underlying rights to land and natural resourcesincorporate social and environmental safeguards and mitigate any negative impacts”.
inclusive national dialogue
The High Commissioner assured that, after her discussions with the interested parties, the way forward in Peru can only be traced successfully if the different sectors of society come together and maintain an inclusive national dialogue. that represents the rich diversity of the country.
“To do this, I urge all political parties to act with generosity and a sense of state to address the challenges that Peru faces. For this dialogue process it is essential to have strong, transparent, accountable state institutions and willing to eradicate corruption”, he pointed out.
Bachelet was hopeful when affirming that she had constructive conversations with representatives of different sectors of the Statewhich recognize Peru’s human rights challenges and have identified concrete responses to address them.
“I value the commitment of the authorities to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms,” he said.
During her visit, Bachelet met with the country’s president, Pedro Castillo, with ministers and senior cabinet officials, as well as with congressmen from the different political parties and with representatives of the judiciary, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and victims of human rights violations.