Paraguay must no longer ignore indigenous peoples’ demands

Amnesty International today said that Paraguay’s response to the questions raised by members of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was disappointing.

The UN Committee was examining the Paraguayan State’s conduct, primarily in relation to indigenous peoples, at a session held on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Committee members highlighted Paraguay’s lack of any effective indigenous land claim mechanism. They also called on the State to explain its failure to comply with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ rulings in the cases of the Yakye Axa, Sawhoyamaxa and Xákmok Kásek communities, particularly with regard to the return of their ancestral lands.

“The Paraguayan authorities failed to provide any information on the actions and measures they are taking to put an end to the ongoing violations of indigenous rights in Paraguay,” said Carolina Román, Paraguay campaigns officer.

During the session, the Paraguayan authorities also blamed one of the communities for the lack of progress in complying with the Inter-American Court’s ruling.

“It is time the Paraguayan State stopped making excuses and blaming the communities for the lack of progress, given that it is the communities themselves that are suffering from this failure to return their lands,” said Carolina Román.

Amnesty International is calling on the Paraguayan State to act decisively and put an end to indigenous rights violations and to adopt all measures necessary to ensure that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ rulings are complied with fully.

The Committee members also noted that it would be beneficial if Paraguay were to seek technical assistance from human rights experts and bodies, and in particular to issue a direct invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. Amnesty International hopes that the Paraguayan State will follow up this proposal.

For more information, see Amnesty International’s Briefing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with regard to the situation of indigenous peoples in Paraguay: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR45/001/2011

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