On 29 May 2021, Law No. 31204 (“Law“) was published, creating a legal framework for the collection, protection, research, preservation, custody, enhancement, access, dissemination and sustainable use of the paleontological heritage of Peru, under the guidance of the Geological Mining and Metallurgical Institute (INGEMMET in Spanish). The status of paleontological heritage is presumed, despite not having been declared by the INGEMMET.
The Law provides that any public or private works that need land removal at a national level must comply with the following new requirements:
- Before starting the removal of land, a geological report must be issued by INGEMMET certifying the non-existence of fossil remains. If there were any, INGEMMET must indicate the form of its recovery by suspending the work, but without reaching a prolonged or perpetual stoppage of the investment project.
- If important fossil remains are found fortuitously, the executor of the work has the obligation to stop the work and inform INGEMMET within a period of no more than two working days.
- Paleontological areas already declared paleontological heritage of Peru are intangible. However, if for national interest or public necessity declared by law public or private investment works involving land removal are carried out, INGEMMET must first issue a certificate that guarantees that the necessary provisions for the preservation of fossils have been made.
Failure to comply with the abovementioned obligations may constitute administrative offences provided for in the Law or in its regulations. Among others, the violations are as follows:
|Type of infringement||Conduct|
|MINOR||Natural or legal persons that are not part of the National Register of Paleontology Research Institutions in Peru who carry out fossil collections.|
|SERIOUS||The natural or legal person does not inform INGEMMET of the discovery or custody of the fossil of scientific, historical and didactic importance.A natural or legal person who, without the express authorization of INGEMMET, performs the removal of land in a paleontological zone, or part of it, that has been declared as paleontological heritage of Peru.Natural or legal persons, private or public, in charge of public or private investment projects, that do not have a geological report issued by INGEMMET before starting their work.Natural or legal persons, private or public, who culpably destroy duly demonstrated fossils of scientific, historical and didactic relevance that have not yet been declared as paleontological heritage of Peru.|
|VERY SERIOUS||Natural or legal persons, private or public, in charge of public or private investment projects, who, despite having obtained a favorable geological report issued by INGEMMET, subsequently find fossil remains of scientific relevance and do not inform INGEMMET and do not immediately stop their work.Natural or legal persons, private or public, in charge of public or private investment projects, find fossil remains of scientific relevance and conceal or destroy them.Natural or legal persons, private or public, who traffic fossils of scientific, historical and didactic relevance that have not yet been declared as paleontological heritage of Peru, as well as fossils that have already been declared.Natural or legal persons, private or public, who intentionally destroy fossils of scientific, historical and didactic relevance that have not yet been declared as paleontological heritage of Peru.Natural or legal persons, private or public, who destroy by will or fault fossils of scientific, historical and didactic relevance that have been declared as paleontological heritage of Peru. Accidents caused in the healing or restoration of a fossil, as well as destructible samples used for research, are excluded from this penalty.|
The investigating body of the sanctioning procedure is the relevant Regional Geology Directorate. The decision-making body is the Board of Directors, which imposes penalties (fines, confiscation and suspension or withdrawal from the registers) in the event of the commission of minor, serious and very serious offenses set forth in the Law, as well as for the related acts established by the Regulations.
Administrative sanctions do not limit the civil and criminal actions that correspond to INGEMMET.
The following are the other aspects to highlight in the Law:
- Ownership and custody: The paleontological heritage of Peru is owned by the Peruvian state. The custody is exercised by the entities registered in the National Registry of Paleontological Research Institutions in Peru (RNIIPP in Spanish), by INGEMMET or by the owners prior to the validity of this Law (who maintain their right of private property).
- Research and training: INGEMMET makes scientific expeditions for the collection of fossils and identification of paleontological areas, promotion of the study and research of the paleontological heritage of Peru and paleontology, through agreements with the private sector, universities and national and international bodies. It also provides training in paleontological matters, in the specialization of technicians in paleopreparation and conservation of fossils, and in the promotion of the study and training of geoarchaeology in coordination with the Ministry of Culture and with public and private entities.
- Fossil collection: They can only be carried out by entities registered in the RNIIPP (obliged to inform INGEMMET) and INGEMMET.
If a natural or legal person fortuitously discovers a fossil of scientific, historical and didactic importance, he must coordinate its delivery to INGEMMET, or in any case to local or regional universities, which will notify INGEMMET within a maximum of five days.
Such people will receive a document of recognition by INGEMMET about their finding and have the right to be named in the scientific research documents, in the administrative resolution that declares the fossil as paleontological heritage of Peru and in its review in the museum.
- Access and dissemination: The competent public bodies must coordinate with the custodians to facilitate the loan of their fossils or collections to be exhibited in museums or in exhibitions freely accessible to the general public, according to the parameters established in the Regulations. If they fail to do so, INGEMMET is entitled to seize their collections and impose a penalty, thus becoming their new custodian.
- Transfer: Important fossils and those declared as paleontological heritage of Peru can be transferred within the national territory, as a loan, for preservation, restoration, research and/or exposure to the general public. It is possible to transfer abroad, as a loan and for scientific purposes, with the prior authorization of INGEMMET. The maximum period of departure from the country is one year and can be extended with the approval of INGEMMET.
- Registry: INGEMMET creates, administers and timely updates the following registers: National Register of Paleontological Heritage of Peru; National Register of Paleontological Zones of Peru; RNIIPP; and National Register of Professionals, Technicians and Researchers in Paleontology of Peru.
- Fossils of no scientific, historical and didactic importance: They have the legal treatment of movable property subject to the rules of civil law and can be marketed and acquired by natural and/or legal persons without restriction or permission.
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