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Drug cartels, armed groups threat to indigenous rights: UN

Drug traffickers and irregular armed groups pose the greatest threat to indigenous groups in parts of Latin America, a UN expert on native rights told reporters on Wednesday.

“In the case of drug traffickers or narcotraffickers and irregular or paramilitary forces, in many places those are the major threat to indigenous peoples,” The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya said.

“Of course this has been a problem in Colombia, with not just the drug cartels but also the irregular forces that exist in that country,” he said.

“The constitutional court itself has declared that because of these forces on the ground, despite protection under Colombian law, and protections in the Colombian constitution, there are numerous indigenous peoples that are in threat of extinction,” Anaya said.

The UN expert added that similar patterns were also being observed in parts of Central America, Peru and Mexico.

He also gave the example of Brazil, where according to Anaya, large scale farmers use private security forces to remove indigenous people “who are reoccupying their traditional territories that are now within … areas titled to the farmer.”

“The real threat there is from these kinds of irregular forces in the midst of a vacuum of effective government power.

“It is a very serious situation,” he added.