On Tuesday, September 18th, James Anaya, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples delivered his annual statement to the Human Rights Council. During his statement, Anaya spoke specifically about indigenous peoples in Argentina and asked the government to stop evicting them from their lands. Anaya’s statements were based on an official visit he took to Argentina on November 27 – December 7, 2011.
A translation of Anaya’s statements on Argentina is given below. The original speech was given in a mix of English and Spanish, and can be found here. Additionally, Anaya’s official report on Argentina – released on July 4, 2012 — can be located here.
James Anaya (September 18, 2012):
In my report on Argentina, I recognize that the Government has taken important steps to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. These steps include incorporating provisions relating to indigenous peoples in the Constitution of 1994, the adoption of legislation establishing a process of regularization of indigenous land tenure, the ratification of Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organization on indigenous and tribal peoples, and Argentina’s vote in the General Assembly in favor of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
However, as I detail in my report, there is still a significant gap between the established legal protections for the rights of indigenous peoples, and its actual implementation. The Government should prioritize and devote more efforts to implementing the human rights of indigenous peoples at both the federal and provincial levels. In particular, the Government should adopt clear policies and develop additional legislative and administrative measures to promote awareness and action by all branches of government on indigenous issues.
Particular areas of concern that I detail in my report relate to the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands and natural resources, including concerns related to the land survey program, extractive industries, and agricultural areas; access to justice, particularly in relation to evictions and criminal prosecution of acts related to unresolved claims of indigenous peoples; as well as social and economic conditions of indigenous peoples, including in the areas of education, health and development.
The Argentinian delegation to the UN responded by stating that the law responsible for many indigenous removals – la Ley de Emergencia 26.160 – has been suspended until November of 2013. However, they also admitted that, despite the suspension of the law, they continue to receive complaints about forced relocations, particularly from Omaguaca, Mapuche, Toba and Wichí communities throughout the country.