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Consultations Finally Begin Between Indigenous and Costa Rica

Costa Rica has entered into consultations with indigenous residents to finally comply with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demand.

The government of Costa Rica has entered into consultations with the indigenous residents of Bri-Bri de Salitre and Bröran de Térraba to finally comply with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) demand to take precautionary measures in favor of the indigenous communities immersed in a process of defense and recovery of their territories illegally occupied by non-indigenous.

Aside from a meeting in the territory in April 2016 with a state delegation led by the Minister of Justice, the government had not shown a clear intent to implement the precautionary measures, reported the daily El Pais.

“On December 2, 2016, at the 159th session of the IACHR in Panama, representatives Bribri and Tereba communities beneficiaries of the Precautionary Measures and their legal advisors of the Forest Peoples Program, the State pledged to enter into consultations with both groups to work on the implementation of these measures,” said a report in the daily online newspaper.

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In Térraba, the Bröran beneficiaries achieved important agreements, such as the organization of meetings with various State institutions, the creation of a Security Commission, and the training in indigenous law of Public Security officers.

Among the meetings are those agreed with INDER (Institute of Rural Development, formerly IDA – Institute of Agrarian Development, and ITCO – Institute of Land and Colonization – the entity entrusted by the Indigenous Law to relocate or expropriate the occupiers, non-Indigenous Peoples who acquired land in indigenous territories before the adoption of the Law or squatted on the land after 1977 and with the Public Security Force (in order to improve the police protection of the indigenous victims of violence for fighting for the recovery of their territory).

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The members of both communities have been the object of violence by groups of non-indigenous squatters who have illegally taken possession of land belonging to the indigenous groups since the Indigenous Territories were under the Indigenous Law passed in the 1977. Beginning in July of 2012, members of the Bri-Bri and Terreba communities moved to take back land taken by the squatters.

Other meetings will be held with DINADECO (National Directorate of Community Development) in order to adapt the registry of affiliates to the Association of Integral Development (ADI) with the Database of the members of the Bröran People – carried out by the Supreme Court of Elections – and with the Public Prosecutor's Office to monitor the progress of cases of violence against indigenous people, and to study existing allegations of usurpation against indigenous people.

In Salitre it was finally possible to specify the Protocol for the Implementation of Precautionary Measures. The Protocol provides for security, territorial recovery and inter-institutional coordination measures.

As security measures, the creation of a Security Commission – with participation of representatives of the State, of Bribri representatives designated by the beneficiaries of the Precautionary Measures – the training of officers in human rights and differentiated rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as greater patrols in the territory (both random and specific) to prevent acts of violence against land reclamation, an emergency telephone link (which falls to the Deputy Minister of Peace and an Emergency Plan.

On the other hand, through a Territorial Rehabilitation Commission – also with Bribri participation in addition to representatives of the State the administrative evictions of non-indigenous people will be worked on and coordinated, followed and collaborated with the situational study to be carried out by INDER, Judicial and administrative cases related to territorial defense.

Finally, this Protocol also provides for inter-institutional coordination measures, including training of judicial officials in matters of indigenous law, and follow-up on cases of violence against the Bribri struggling to recover their lands. However, in parallel with the Protocol, the Bribri Beneficiaries are still awaiting the signature by the State of the other agreements reached orally at the conciliation on January 26.

Along these lines on February 9 - 10, in Térraba and Salitre respectively, the meetings agreed to with INDER were held. After a presentation by the institution of its National Plan for the Recovery of Indigenous Territories (Plan-RIT), both Peoples presented their observations and INDER undertook to review, modify and complete the RIT plan.