For the third time in the past five years, Paraguay was found guilty of violating indigenous human rights. Specifically, in a decision written on August 24, 2010, made public in late September, and reported on earlier this week by the Paraguayan press, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (a part of the OAS) found that Paraguay was continuing to violate the human rights of the Xákmok Kásek Community, and ordered the country to compensate the community with land and money.
Specifically, the Court held that Paraguay had violated rights to life, collective property, humane treatment, and to be free from discrimination, amongst others. The Court also stated that Paraguay must return 10,700 hectares (26,440 acres) of land to the community by the year 2013. The Court also ordered Paraguay to pay US$ 700,000 for community development projects and an additional US$ 295,000 to be paid to the families who brought the claims as compensation for the violation of their rights. Furthermore, the Court stated if Paraguay does not return the land on time, it will fine the country US$ 10,000 per month until it does so.
As mentioned above, the case involved the Xákmok Kásek Community, which according to the Court’s opinion, is a part of the Enxet people — an indigenous group that is comprised of approximately 17,000 individuals living in the Gran Chaco region of western Paraguay. Their claims began back in 1990 when the Community began internal proceedings to have their traditional lands recognized. For ten years, those proceedings yielded no results (and, in fact, to this day have yielded no results), and so in 2001, the Community filed its first claim with the OAS.
Overall, this is the third claim by indigenous peoples that the Paraguayan government has lost before the OAS. The other rulings came in 2005 and 2006, and involved the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa communities (both also of the Enxet people). In those rulings, the Court ordered, among other things, that land be returned to the communities by June of 2009 — a date that passed more than 15 months ago without any substantial action on the part of the Paraguayan government.
The full text of the Court’s decision August 24th decision — in Spanish — can be found here.