News / 12 August 2013

Anouk Franck on visit UN Rapporteur James Anayo to Panama

We were very pleased that James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, visited Panama to speak with the indigenous Ngäbe Buglé community and to take a close look at the developments around the Barro Blanco dam.


In his final report Anaya pays quite a lot of attention to Barro Blanco, calling the operation symbolic of the way in which indigenous peoples in Panama are affected by mining projects and large dams. He also mentions that involvement and participation of indigenous people are insufficient and that they rarely share in the profits of these projects.   



Reading his report only confirms that the Ngäbe community strongly opposes the project and hardly gets any information. Anaya’s strongest conclusion is that although this is mandatory, the indigenous communities have not been sufficiently consulted before the concession was issued. He also notes that not only the Panamanian government must respect the Ngäbe rights, but Genisa, the company building the dam, has an independent obligation to do so as well. 


The banks
Anaya does not specifically mention the banks financing Barro Blanco, including the Dutch development bank FMO. But in my opinion this is no reason for these banks not to comply to international rules and standards, including Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Anaya's report confirms that complaints and protests of the Ngäbe Indians, especially those of people directly affected must be taken serious.


James Anaya calls for the suspension of the actual usage of he dam, at least until an agreement is reached. He urges the Round Table, which has been negotiating on this matter, to continue and find a solution based on real consensus.  


The full  report of James Anaya (Spanish)


Last year, questions about the Barro Blanco dam were asked in the Dutch Parliament , following a programme which was broadcast on Dutch radio.


About Anouk Franck


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