- The Mexican National Supreme Court takes on amparos about Indigenous Consultation; their resolution would define a base line for the parameters of both the stages and principles that guide the human right to Indigenous Consultation that is previous, free, informed and culturally adequate.
- This creates a precedent in favor of human rights of indigenous peoples and communities in Mexico.
The Mexican National Supreme Court takes on amparos presented by members of the indigenous community of Juchitán de Zaragoza in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, with the support of the Mexican NGO ProDESC (Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, A.C. – Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Project). The amparos had been filed to establish the content and scope of each of the principles of Indigenous Consultation.
The Mexican National Supreme Court accepted to review the amparos 166/2017 and 476/2017, presented to oppose the verdicts issued by the Sixth and Seventh District Court in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, in order to define the above-mentioned issues.
These amparos were presented by the Zapotec community against the Indigenous Consultation, carried out in 2014 and 2015, on the implementation of a wind park project by the company Eólica del Sur, a subsidiary of the transnational company Mitsubishi. It was the first Indigenous Consultation carried out in Mexico under the framework of the 2013 energy reform.
In the process of the so-called “Consultation”, Mexican authorities engaged in a number of violations of the international standards for Indigenous Consultation. These violations include: permits granted by authorities to generate electric power and the authorization of the environmental impact assessment before consulting the community; lack of relevant, sufficient, valuable quality information; and carelessness by the responsible authorities regarding the adaptation of the process to the community’s cultural necessities and the Zapotec world view. All these violations add to the more than 30 security incidents that were registered in the community.
In spite of above-mentioned violations, the Mexican State intends to replicate this process as model "Consultation" for future energy projects, even though it does not comply with the obligation to be prior, free, informed and culturally appropriate. Therefore, it is critical that the Supreme Court analyzes the human rights violations committed before and during this Consultation.
The resolution of the amparos that are currently being reviewed by the First Chamber of the Supreme Court will define a base line for the principles that guide the human right to Consultation, in addition to setting a historical precedent for the Mexican State, which has generally excluded indigenous communities in decisions about their land, territory and natural resources.
It should be noted that on April 24 this year, in the framework of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Mexican authorities recognized that the Mexican State has a pending debt with the indigenous peoples and communities regarding the implementation of the right to Consultation on mega projects in their territories. The resolution of the Supreme Court would have profound impact and would, in terms of justice, contribute to repay part of the debt to indigenous peoples and communities.
The implementation of "renewable" energy mega projects in the region of the Istmo de Tehuantepec has forced communities to reorganize for the defense of their territory. In 2013, supported by ProDESC, the Zapotec community of Juchitán de Zaragoza started a process of legal and organizational defense of their land and territory. The presented amparos add to the various legal actions that the Zapotec community have undertaken in defense of their rights.
Mexico City, May 3, 2018