Amnesty International urged Paraguayan authorities to return land to a threatened indigenous group, following a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights this week that the Xákmok Kásek community should be allowed to live on its traditional territory. Paraguay is the only country in the Americas to have been condemned three times by the regional human rights court.
The community, which comprises around 60 families, has been denied access to the land for over 20 years and deprived of its traditional means of subsistence: hunting, fishing and gathering. “The Paraguayan authorities have shown a shocking disregard for the well-being of its indigenous population. With every day that passes, the government is condemning these communities to a life of misery and threatening their survival,” said Louise Finer of Amnesty International.
The Xakmok Kásek indigenous community, part of the Enxet ethnic group, is claiming 10,700 hectares of land, currently located within a private farm in the Paraguayan Chaco. It took its case to international human rights bodies after two decades of fruitless negotiations with the government. In 2005 and 2006, the Court condemned Paraguay for the violation of the rights of the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa communities, who have been forced to live in poverty along the side of a highway because their ancestral lands are privately owned by others.
The Court gave the Paraguayan authorities three years to comply with these rulings. Both deadlines have long expired, but they have yet to return the land to the communities. “It is deplorable that these two communities are still waiting for the state to take decisive action,” said Louise Finer. “This third ruling against the state—a record in Latin America—shows that instead of taking action to reverse the historic legacy of indigenous rights violations, Paraguay is allowing it to continue.” (Amnesty International, Oct. 1)
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