On Thursday, May 24th, Amnesty International released its annual report entitled, “The State of the World’s Human Rights.” The document, which is more than 400 pages long, highlights major global human rights issues and then examines the human rights situation country-by-country. Indigenous peoples’ rights are discussed in the context of 14 different country reports, including: Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay. Below is a summary of what Amnesty International had to say about indigenous rights in each of those countries. If you’d like to review the entire document, you can download the entire English version here.
Amnesty International mentions four items with respect to indigenous rights in Argentina:
- The report looks at how indigenous communities continue to be evicted and threatened with eviction from their lands despite laws designed to stop such practices. This is a topic discussed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, when he visited Argentina in September of 2011.
- After months of protests, the Argentinian government agreed to meet with Toba (Qom) leaders about lands. While a positive development, there have been issues with the Toba community’s leaders being harassed and threatened.
- In November of 2011 a Lule community leader was shot and killed in his attempt to defend his peoples’ lands from development projects.
- In August of 2011, the Quilmes Indigenous community of Colalao del Valle (Diaguita) won a court decision that ordered they not be evicted from their lands at least until ownership of the property in question is conclusively determined.
The report highlighted four aspects of indigenous rights in Chile, each of which have been discussed on IndigenousNews in the past:
- Amnesty International begins by discussing briefly the Chilean government’s failed attempt at producing a nation-wide indigenous consultation policy. Pressure from indigenous communities ultimately forced the government to suspend their efforts, although recently the government has begun discussing a national indigenous consultation policy again.
- The report also discusses the problem of the Antiterrorism Law being applied only to the Mapuche people, and its continued use against minors even though reforms to the Antiterrorism Law were supposed to eliminate its applicability with respect to juveniles.
- On June 3, 2011, the Chilean Supreme Court convicted four Mapuche men who were originally charged under the Antiterrorism Law. Although the Court did not find the men guilty of any terrorist activities, procedures from the Antiterrorism Law were used including anonymous witnesses.
- In February of 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures to the Rapa Nui people in response to alleged attacks by police officers during protests.
Amnesty International’s report focused on land rights issues with respect to Paraguay’s indigenous peoples:
- In September of 2011 the Sawhoyamaxa community of the Exnet people signed an agreement with the Paraguayan government to have more than 14,000 hectares transferred from the government to the community. This was in response to an international decision more than five years ago.
- In August of 2011 the Paraguayan government transferred approximately 8,700 hectares of land to the Kelyenmagategma community of the Exnet people. This too, was in response to an international case that began more than a decade ago.
- Two other land cases — those of the Yakye Axa and Xámok Kásek — however, saw no significant developments during the time period covered by the report.