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Parque Eólico Chiloé, Comunidad Indígena Antú Lafquén de Huentetique v Corema de la Región de los Lagos, Final appeal, writ of protection, ILDC 2800 (CL 2012), Rol Nr 10.090-2011, 22nd March 2012, Chile; Supreme Court

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 15 December 2018

Parties:
Comunidad Indígena Antú Lafquén de Huentetique
Corema de la Región de los Lagos
Judges/Arbitrators:
Sergio Muñoz G; Pedro Pierry A; María Eugenia Sandoval G; Luis Bates H
Procedural Stage:
Final appeal, writ of protection
Previous Procedural Stage(s):
Appeal Court of Puerto Montt, Rol Nr 239-2011, 11 October 2011
Subject(s):
Indigenous peoples — Equality before the law — Minorities — Collective rights — Environmental disputes
Core Issue(s):
Whether an environmental impact assessment was required to include consultation with the indigenous community affected by a planned project under the International Labour Organization Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (No 169).

Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts is edited by:

Professor André Nollkaemper, University of Amsterdam and  August Reinisch, University of Vienna.

Facts

F1  A wind turbine energy company planned to install a facility on the island of Chiloe, Chile. COREMA, the Regional Environmental Protection Agency (the ‘Environmental Agency’), approved the facility after the company made a simple declaration of environmental impact assessment. That procedure was used in Chile for small projects that would have a small impact on the environment. Projects that would have a significant environmental impact were required to undergo a more thorough environmental impact assessment.

F2  The approval was upheld by the Appeal Court of Puerto Montt on 11 October 2011.

F3  The indigenous community Antu Lafquen de Huentetique asked the Supreme Court to set aside the administrative authorization based on a violation of their right to equality under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, 1980 (Chile) and the lack of consultation with their community as mandated by Article 6(1)(a) of the International Labour Organization Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (No 169) (1989), entry into force 5 September 1991 (‘ILO Convention No 169’). The indigenous community argued that the authorization was illegal because a simple declaration of environmental impact assessment was not sufficient. The company should have undertaken a more exhaustive environmental impact assessment because of the magnitude of the project and also because it affected an indigenous settlement and areas of historic and touristic interest. The indigenous community also claimed that the authorization had been granted without considering the norms on indigenous consultation established in ILO Convention 169, which were mandatory because Chile had been a party to the Convention since 2008.

Held

H1  Articles 4 and 6(1) of ILO Convention No 169 created a special mechanism of participation which benefited indigenous people. Any measure, project, or procedure that might affect indigenous people had to be preceded by an indigenous consultation. (paragraph 5)

H2  Archeological remains at the site on which the facility was to be built made a more exhaustive environmental impact assessment mandatory. Also because of those features, consultation with the indigenous people was mandatory according to ILO Convention No 169. It was necessary to establish dialogue with the communities and reach agreements in good faith. (paragraph 7)

H3  The consultation purportedly performed by the company, which involved information meetings, did not satify the requirements for indigenous consultation as regulated in ILO No Convention 169. The simple delivery of information was not a consultation because the communities did not have the opportunity to influence and shape the development of the project and protect the indigenous community’s rights. The Environmental Agency should not have approved the project under those conditions. The anthropological study attached to the environmental impact assessment had acknowledged the historical and symbolic value of the archeological site for the indigenous community, which was related to their ancient practices and funerary rituals. (paragraph 8)

H4  The Environmental Agency’s approval of the enviromental impact assessment was illegal because the Agency had failed to consider the indigenous community’s opinion and the importance of the archeological remains for the indigenous people, which violated their right to equality established in Article 1 of the Constitution. (paragraph 9)

H5  The authorization was set aside and a more exhaustive environmental impact assessment was ordered. The assessment was required to include consultation with the indigenous people in the terms required by ILO Convention No 169 in order to ensure fulfilment of the indigenous community’s rights. (paragraph 10)

Date of Report: 27 October 2017
Reporter(s):
Rodrigo Cespedes

Analysis

A1  Several Latin American countries had ratified ILO Convention No 169, most of which had significant populations of indigenous peoples. That phenomenon influenced the jurisprudence of their domestic courts, expanding Latin American states’ constitutional justice. Colombia was one example: see Law 1021 of 2006 (General Foresting Law), Re, García Guzmán and ors, Application for Constitutional Review, Decision No C-030-08, ILDC 1010 (CO 2008), 23 January 2008. According to the Colombian Constitutional Court, ILO Convention No 169 was applicable not only because it was adopted by an international organization to provide rights to indigenous peoples, but also because it afforded the widest protection to the rights of indigenous communities in comparison to the text of the Constitution, 1991 (Colombia). The Colombian Constitution had a clear multi-ethnic and multi-cultural character and, what is more, granted constitutional rank to treaties.

A2  The decision under review was another example of the constitutionalization of international human rights law in Latin America. An indigenous community used a constitutional remedy (the writ of protection, under Article 20 of the Constitution) in order to set aside an administrative act which had not involved indigenous consultation, violating the right to equality of the indigenous community (Article 19(2) of the Constitution). The Court appeared to apply the right of equality to the community rather than to individuals. In other words, the Court seems to have recognized a sort of group right to equality in order to facilitate individual rights and to have acknowledged indigenous communities’ specificities. In fact, indigenous consultation was a separate step, different from consultation with the general population.

A3  This decision demonstrated the direct application of ILO Convention No 169 in the Chilean legal system. This treaty had been important in the adjudication of criminal cases: see eg, Velázquez Zambrana v Prosecutor Office of Arica, Final ruling, RUC No 1410018700-1, ILDC 2578 (CL 2015), RIT no 27-2015, 2 March 2015, in which the Criminal Court of Arica aquitted the defendant after considering a cultural defence based on ILO Convention No 169. It had also been applied in cases involving issues about natural resources: see eg, Sociedad Agua Mineral Chusmiza SAIC, ex parte Domínguez v Comunidad Indígena Aimara Chusmiza y Usmagama, Action to annul, Rol nr 2/840-2008, ILDC 1881 (CL 2009), 25 November 2009, where the Supreme Court used the concept of ‘indigenous territory’, according to the Convention, in order to grant water rights to an indigenous community bypassing domestic law.

A4  The instant judgment set standards for compliance with the right to indigenous consultation and interpreted its features. The Supreme Court held that the absence of proper consultation with the indigenous community, in the terms described by ILO Convention No 169, rendered the authorization of the environmental impact assessment illegal. (paragraph 9) The Court determined that the consultation described in ILO Convention No 169 gave the indigenous communities a right to participate in the development of projects and to shape them in order to guarantee their rights. That result should be achieved as a product of a dialogue conducted by the company and the communities in good faith, which had to be considered by the government when granting permission to initiate the project. (paragraph 8) In the Court’s opinion, not having properly consulted the indigenous people violated their right to equality, which was affected by the state when it authorized the company’s environmental impact assessment. In order to ensure that equality, the company had to proceed in that way and the state was obliged to reject any project which was not conducted according to the standard set in this ruling.

A5  An archeological site could have been affected without the proper counter measures. The proposed site for the project not only had historical and touristic importance, but was a sacred indigenous place that was significiant for religious ceremonies and burial rites, as the evidence showed. Clean energy was needed, but this had to be balanced against the other interests in play.

Date of Analysis: 27 October 2017
Analysis by: Rodrigo Cespedes

Instruments cited in the full text of this decision:

To access full citation information for this document, see the Oxford Law Citator record

Decision - full text

Vistos:

Se reproduce la sentencia en alzada, con excepción de sus fundamentos sexto a décimo que se eliminan.

Y se tiene en su lugar y además presente:

(1)  PRIMERO: Que el recurso de protección de garantías constitucionales, está consagrado como una acción cautelar, frente a una actuación arbitraria o ilegal que prive, amenace o perturbe alguna de las garantías que el constituyente ha protegido en el artículo 20 de la Carta Política, de tal suerte que al comprobarse los supuestos de la acción, procede brindar la medida que ampare al recurrente en sus derechos.

(2)  SEGUNDO: Que el acto que origina la presente acción cautelar es la Resolución Exenta Nº 373/2011 de la Comisión Regional del Medio Ambiente de la Región de Los Lagos, que calificó favorablemente el proyecto “Parque Eólico Chiloé”. En concepto de la entidad que recurre Comunidad Indígena Antu Lafquen de Huentetique, dicha decisión es ilegal y arbitraria por cuanto el proyecto en cuestión debe ingresar al Sistema de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental por medio de un Estudio de Impacto Ambiental de conformidad al artículo 11 de la Ley Nº 19.300, y al no haberse dispuesto así por la referida autoridad, se afectarían las garantías constitucionales contempladas en los numerales 2 y 21 del artículo 19 de la Constitución Política de la República.

(3)  TERCERO: Que la reclamante sostiene que el proyecto denunciado produce efectos que, según la normativa que regula el Sistema de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental, se deben ponderar, a partir de un Estudio de Impacto Ambiental y no a través de una Declaración de Impacto Ambiental -como aconteció-, puesto que concurren los supuestos contemplados en el citado artículo 11, particularmente los que prevén sus literales d), e) y f).

Argumentan que el proyecto afecta a poblaciones, recursos y áreas protegidas, circunstancias que no se encuentran cuestionadas por la autoridad ambiental, pues es innegable el asentamiento de comunidades indígenas Huilliches en los terrenos que se pretenden intervenir, por tratarse de un área declarada zona o centro de interés turístico nacional, la existencia de monumentos históricos y zonas típicas ubicadas dentro del área de influencia del proyecto.

(4)  CUARTO: Que el segundo reproche de ilegalidad se hace consistir en haber faltado al deber de consulta a los pueblos indígenas que contempla el Convenio Nº 169 de la OIT, no obstante estar frente a una decisión administrativa que ha certificado que el proyecto evaluado supuestamente cumple con todas las exigencias que impone la normativa aplicable y que es obligatoria para los demás órganos del Estado con competencia ambiental, los cuales no podrán denegar las autorizaciones sectoriales correspondientes.

(5)  QUINTO: Que conviene dejar consignado que el Convenio Nº 169 sobre Pueblos Indígenas y Tribales establece para aquellos grupos con especificidad cultural propia, un mecanismo de participación que les asegura el ejercicio del derecho esencial que la Constitución Política consagra en su artículo primero a todos los integrantes de la comunidad nacional, cual es el de intervenir con igualdad de condiciones en su mayor realización espiritual y material posible.

De ello se sigue que cualquier proceso que pueda afectar alguna realidad de los pueblos originarios, supone que sea llevado a cabo desde esa particularidad y en dirección a ella. Ha de ser así por cuanto las medidas que se adopten deben orientarse a salvaguardar las personas, las instituciones, los bienes, el trabajo, la cultura y el medio ambiente de los pueblos interesados.

(5)  FIFTH: It should be noted that the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples establishes for those groups, with their own specific cultural features, a mechanism of participation that assures them the exercise of their essential right which the Constitution guarantees in its First Article to all members of the national community, which is to intervene on equal terms in the community in order to obtain their best possible spiritual and material fulfilment.

According to that, any process that may affect Indigenous peoples must be carried out considering their particular features. This must be the case because the measures adopted must be aimed at safeguarding the individuals belonging to those Indigenous peoples and their institutions, assets, work, culture, and environment.

(6)  SEXTO: Que la resolución que califica favorablemente el proyecto en cuestión, en su considerando 5º manifiesta que el proyecto no genera, ni presenta ninguno de los efectos, características o circunstancias que dispone el artículo 11 de la Ley Nº 19.300, manifestando al respecto que no se cumple con ninguna de las hipótesis que señala la norma.

(7)  SÉPTIMO: Que en contradicción con lo previamente señalado y teniendo en consideración lo dispuesto en la letra f) del artículo 11 de la citada ley, los hallazgos arqueológicos que desde un principio aparecieron de manifiesto en los antecedentes con que contaba el organismo, contenidos en el documento acompañado a la Declaración de Impacto Ambiental denominado "Línea base aspectos culturales y arqueológicos" que da cuenta de la existencia de 18 sitios arqueológicos en el área de influencia directa del proyecto, debieron ser consideradas para someter el referido proyecto a un Estudio de Impacto Ambiental para así dar cumplimiento al proceso de consulta que previene el numeral 1º del artículo 6 del Convenio Nº 169 de la OIT, cuyo artículo 4º dispone la obligatoriedad de las consultas y la participación de organizaciones representativas que permita llegar a entendimiento mediante un diálogo que ha de tenerse de buena fe con el propósito claro de arribar a acuerdos. [H2]

(7)  SEVENTH: That in contradiction to what was previously indicated, and taking into consideration Article 11(f) of the aforementioned law (Nr 19.300), the archaeological remains whose existence was evident from the beginning in the Agency’s file, contained in the document attached in the Declaration of Environmental Impact called ‘Baseline cultural and archaeological aspects’. [This document] states the existence of 18 archaeological sites in the area of direct influence of the project, which should be considered to submit the aforementioned project to a Study of Environmental Impact in order to comply with the consultation process regulated by Articles 4 and 6(1) of ILO Convention 169, whose provisions order the realization of consultations and the participation of representative organizations to reach an understanding through a good faith dialogue with the clear purpose of reaching an agreement.

(8)  OCTAVO: Que las instancias de participación que se aducen en la ADENDA Nº 2, consistentes en reuniones voluntarias de acercamiento e información con la comunidad respecto de los alcances del proyecto, distan de satisfacer las especiales características que posee la consulta cuya omisión se reprocha, por cuanto el desplegar información no constituye un acto de consulta a los afectados, pues éstos, en ese escenario, no tienen posibilidades reales de influir en la implementación, ubicación y desarrollo del proyecto, con el objeto de brindar la protección de sus derechos y garantizar el respeto en su integridad. Es decir, la autoridad administrativa recurrida determina el asentamiento de un proyecto en un lugar donde se encuentran hallazgos arqueológicos de una cultura originaria, prescindiendo de la participación y cooperación de ésta para determinar las mejores medidas que se puedan adoptar para la debida protección del patrimonio histórico cultural.

Se debe considerar, además, lo indicado en el estudio antropológico realizado en mayo de 2011, que se adjunta a la citada ADENDA Nº 2, donde se reconoce el valor patrimonial y la significación simbólica que las comunidades le otorgan a los sitios arqueológicos identificados, relacionados con sus prácticas ancestrales, identificando la zona de Playa Mar Brava -lugar de asentamiento del proyecto- como territorio Huilliche, destacándose el Puente Quilo como un lugar vinculado a ceremonias rituales fúnebres.

(8)  EIGHTH: That the forms of participation named in ADDENDUM No. 2, consisting of voluntary meetings of information with the community regarding the scope of the project, in no way correspond to the special characteristics of the omitted consultation because the simple deployment of information does not constitute an act of consultation to those affected: they have no real possibility of shaping the implementation, location, and development of the project in order to provide protection of their rights. The reviewed administrative authority authorized the settlement of a project in a place where archaeological remains were found, regardless of its historical and cultural value, which it has the duty to protect.

It should also be considered as indicated in the anthropological study carried out in May 2011, which is attached to the aforementioned ADDENDUM No. 2, that recognizes the cultural value and the symbolic significance for the communities of the archaeological sites that are linked with their ancestral practices and funeral ceremonies, settled in Huilliche territory.

(9)  NOVENO: Que tal proceder deviene en que la Resolución de Calificación Ambiental impugnada, incumple la obligación de fundamentación de los actos administrativos, porque no es fruto de un claro proceso de consulta en el que se hayan tenido en cuenta las opiniones respecto de la utilización de las tierras indígenas de las comunidades originarias interesadas.

Tal carencia torna ilegal la decisión al faltar a un deber de consulta que correspondía acatar la autoridad por imperativo legal, proceder que lesiona la garantía de igualdad ante la ley, porque al no aplicarse la consulta que el Convenio dispone, niega trato de iguales a dichas comunidades indígenas.

(9)  NINTH: Such procedure results in the challenged Environmental Impact Assessment authorization which breached the obligation to motivate administrative acts, because such authorization was not the result of a valid consultation of Indigenous communities whose opinions had to be been taken into account since those were lands relevant for Indigenous communities.

Such deficiencies makes the authorization illegal due to failing to comply with a legal obligation to consult ordered by ILO Convention 169, which affect indigenous communities’ right to equality.

(10)  DÉCIMO: Que por lo anteriormente expuesto, esta Corte brindará la cautela requerida, en razón que para la aprobación del proyecto “Parque Eólico Chiloé” era necesario un Estudio de Impacto Ambiental que como tal comprende un procedimiento de participación ciudadana, que deberá ajustarse además a los términos que el Convenio Nº 169 contempla, lo cual permitirá asegurar el derecho antes aludido. [H5]

(10)  TENTH: Due to the fact mentioned above, this Court will order the writ of protection requested by the claimant, because a Study of Environmental Impact was needed in order to authorize the “Chiloé Wind-Mild Park” project and, as such must include an indigenous consultation according to the standard given by the ILO Convention 169, which will ensure the aforementioned right.

(11)  UNDÉCIMO: Que lo antes expuesto, no se encuentra en contradicción con lo resuelto en los autos Rol Nº 10.383-2011, por cuanto difieren los procesos tanto en los comparecientes como en las causas que le sirven de base a las pretensiones sometidas a la decisión de este tribunal.

Por estas consideraciones y lo dispuesto en el artículo 20 de la Constitución Política de la República y en el Auto Acordado de esta Corte sobre la materia, se revoca la sentencia apelada de once de octubre de dos mil once, escrita a fojas 154 y, en consecuencia, se acoge el recurso de protección presentado en lo principal de fojas 78, declarándose que se deja sin efecto la Resolución Exenta Nº 373/2011 de 18 de agosto de 2011 de la Comisión Regional del Medio Ambiente de la Región de Los Lagos, por lo que el proyecto "Parque Eólico Chiloé", deberá someterse a un Estudio de Impacto Ambiental, cuyo procedimiento de participación ciudadana previsto en los artículos 26 a 31 de la Ley Nº 19.300 se rija por los estándares del Convenio Nº 169 sobre Pueblos Indígenas y Tribales.

Regístrese y devuélvase con sus agregados.

Redacción a cargo de la Ministro señora Sandoval.

Rol Nº 10.090-2011.

Pronunciado por la Tercera Sala de esta Corte Suprema, Integrada por los Ministros Sr. Sergio Muñoz G., Sr. Pedro Pierry A., Sra. María Eugenia Sandoval G., el Ministro Suplente Sr. Juan Escobar Z. y el Abogado Integrante Sr. Luis Bates H.