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UN experts say states must protect indigenous peoples

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Staff Reporter
States around the world must take effective actions to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, says a group of UN experts.
In a joint statement marking the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples that falls on August 9, the experts say it is crucial that the rights of indigenous peoples are realized when they migrate or are displaced from their lands:
The experts are chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Erika Yamada, chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Special Rapporteur on the rights of in-digenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and chair of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peo-ples Binota Dhamai.
"In many parts of the world, indigenous peoples have become migrants because they are fleeing economic dep-rivation, forced displacement, environmental disasters, including climate change impacts, social and political unrest, and militarization. Indigenous peoples have shown remarkable resilience and determination in these extreme situations," reads the joint statement.
They reminded States that all indigenous peoples, whether they migrate or remain, have rights under interna-tional instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, according to a message received from Geneva on Tuesday.
Within countries, government and industry initiatives, including national development, infrastructure, agro-business, natural resource extraction and climate change mitigation, or other matters that affect indigenous peoples, must be undertaken with the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples, such that they are not made to relocate against their will.
"States must recognize that relocation of indigenous peoples similarly triggers requirements including free, prior and informed consent, as well as restitution and compensation under the Declaration," reads the state-ment.
They said they are concerned about human rights violations in the detention, prosecution and deportation prac-tices of States.
"There's also a dearth of appropriate data on indigenous peoples who are migrants. As a result of this invisibil-ity, those detained at international borders are often denied access to due process, including interpretation and other services that are essential for fair representation in legal processes."
They called on States immediately to reunite children, parents and caregivers who may have been separated in border detentions or deportations.
They expressed particular concern about indigenous women and children who are exposed to human and drug trafficking, and sexual violence, and indigenous persons with disabilities who are denied accessibility services.
"On this International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, we urge States, UN agencies, and others, in the strongest terms possible, to ensure indigenous peoples' rights under the Declaration and other instruments, and to recognize these rights especially in the context of migration, including displacement and other trans-border issues."