Articles 81 and 82 of the Organic Law on Citizen Participation stipulate the right to prior, free and informed consultation. Article 157 of the Organic Law on the Legislative Function guarantees the participation of citizens in the different stages of formation of laws through a variety of mechanisms. As stipulated in the law on citizen participation, citizens can request that a consultation process be called to allow people to query any matter of interest. In addition, the same law recognises a variety of participation mechanisms, allowing citizens to become involved in the decisions taken at all levels of government, which are: hearings, popular councils, the empty chair, review boards, observatories and consultation councils. The participation processes stipulated in the law have been promoted through the website of the Citizen Participation Council, an autonomous body, created from the 2008 Constitution, article 398 of which recognises the right to consultation. The Council’s function is to facilitate processes of participation, social monitoring and the fight against corruption. However, an exhaustive study is required to analyse whether the mechanisms have been effective with regard to the forest sector.
It is worth noting that, in March 2012, a multinational resistance march took place, in which participants presented a mandate for water, life and the dignity of indigenous peoples. One of the demands made of the government was to ensure compliance with the right to prior, free and informed and pre-legislative consultation, respecting the terms of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. The lack of pre-legislative consultation has held up important processes such as process of the draft Organic Law on Water Resources, Use and Application of Water. In May 2012, the draft law on pre-legislative consultation was announced, detailing four sections with their respective processes: preparatory acts; invitation, registration and information; execution and delivery of results; analysis of results and closure.
As far as the forest sector is concerned, the Unified Text of Secondary Legislation guarantees the participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making on activities to be carried out in their territories, and the forest law and the environmental management law stipulate that the local authorities must consult these peoples before issuing environmental policies. However, they neither detail nor establish procedures. Finally, the MAE has embarked on an official process to form the Sectoral Citizen Councils. The lines of action and the subject areas to be dealt with by these councils have been defined. This can be considered progress, without ruling out the existence of other participation processes.
It is also worth emphasising that article 22 of the same law states that, if the President of the Republic makes a request in relation to the exploitation of non-renewable resources in protected areas and areas declared intangible, including forestry operations, the plenary session of the National Assembly, in two debates and with absolute majority of its members, may declare the President of the Republic’s request to be of national interest. In this case, popular consultation depends on whether or not the Assembly considers it appropriate.
|Title||a. Draft organic law on pre-legislative consultation to communes, communities, peoples and nationalities.
b. Organic Law on Citizen Participation
c. Organic Law on the Legislative Function
d. Unified Text of Secondary Environmental Legislation
|Organisation||a. National Assembly
b. Council for Citizen Participation and Social Monitoring
c. National Assembly
|Date||a.16 May 2012
b. April 2010, modified May 2011