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Groundbreaking win for indigenous people in Colombia

Language: English

Data type: Legal references

Author(s): Forest Peoples Programme

Publication details: Forest Peoples Programme 2017

About this resource:

On 8 February 2017, the Constitutional Court of Colombia has found in favour of the Embera Chamí people in a centuries-old fight for their territory. The court granted the petition for the protection of constitutional rights requested by the of the Indigenous Resguardo Cañamomo Lomaprieta, in western Colombia.

The Colombian Constitutional Court is the final court of appeal for constitutional matters in Colombia. The court ordered that the Resguardo’s lands must be delimited and titled within one year. During which time, all further permits for mining activities must be suspended. Any subsequent mining activities proposed on the delimited territories may only proceed on the basis of the effective participation of the Resguardo.

The court also ordered that the map produced by the Resguardo of their land be registered provisionally until it is officially demarcated.

The judgment will help resolve issues caused by the lack of land titling, including exercising authority of indigenous people over their lands. It also recognises that traditional activities, such as mining carried out by indigenous people, is a protected ‘ancestral activity’ though it lacks formal recognition by the government.

This ruling is also relevant for other indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities whose lands are awaiting delimitation.

The extensive press release from the Forest Peoples’ Programme provides extensive background on the case.

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