Press Release

IACHR Warns About Health Crisis in Cantagallo Urban Indigenous Community, in Peru

May 27, 2020

   Related links

   Contact info

IACHR Press Office

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is concerned about the critical health situation in the Cantagallo Urban Indigenous Community in Peru in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and urges the State to pay particular attention to this community.

According to information received by the IACHR, rapid tests conducted on May 12 showed that 73% of the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous residents of the Rímac neighborhood in Lima were positive for COVID-19. Further, according to some news reports, three people have died in this community due to complications linked to the virus. The Commission notes that the community’s pre-existing vulnerability—in terms of its economic, social, cultural, and other human rights—has created the conditions that enable such high rates of COVID-19 infection.

The IACHR further notes that the Cantagallo Urban Indigenous Community is made up of 238 families of the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous people who settled in Lima more than two decades ago, after leaving their ancestral land in the Amazonian region for financial and security-related reasons. Given the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this community is in lockdown and has reportedly been provided very few basic social services by the Municipality of Lima and other State authorities. This community faces a deficient provision of water, sanitation, and housing, as well as poor access to medication and food.

The Commission notes the measures adopted by the State to contain the pandemic, but it is also concerned about the financial situation of families in this community. According to the information obtained by the IACHR, members of the community have been deprived of the possibility to sell their art and hold other cultural activities, which are their main source of income, but only 30% of all families have been able to access the funds distributed by the State in the context of the ongoing pandemic. The community has reportedly also failed to obtain State support to deal with COVID-19-related deaths.

In its efforts to monitor the situation of human rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IACHR is particularly concerned about the differentiated, intersectional impact that the pandemic can have on the human rights of groups and communities who are especially vulnerable, including indigenous peoples. The IACHR has warned that historical discrimination against indigenous peoples has led to a structural, systematic violation of their human rights, particularly their economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights.

The IACHR stresses its Resolution 1/20, focused on human rights in the context of the pandemic, and its recent press release alerting about the special vulnerability of indigenous peoples. The Commission therefore calls on the State of Peru to protect the rights of indigenous peoples when taking action to address, treat, and contain the pandemic and to mitigate the potentially differentiated impact of any measures it takes. The IACHR further stresses that any action taken in favor of these peoples must respect their worldviews and cultural diversity.

The Commission urges the State of Peru to take—in coordination with the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous authorities and representatives of the Cantagallo Urban Indigenous Community—any culturally appropriate measures necessary to provide food, medication, water and sanitation, housing, and other services required to protect the economic, social, cultural, and other human rights of community residents, including new arrivals. The IACHR also urges the State of Peru to ensure that well-coordinated, culturally appropriate measures are taken to address the spread of the pandemic, including medical care, measures to handle the bodies of those who die of COVID-19, and efforts to give all members of the community the means to stay safe.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 120/20