Asociación de Comunidades Aborígenes Lhaka Honhat. Caso Nº 12.094. [ENG]
Petition based on infrastructure project planned in indigenous land without duly consulting communities or conducting relevant socio-environmental impact report. Friendly settlement proceedings aimed at handing over land. Request for interim measures alleging failure to comply with commitments assumed within friendly settlement proceedings.
In 1998, the Aboriginal Communities Association Lhaka Honat filed an action with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the State of Argentina. The communities living in Salta province denounced violations of their right to ancestral land, to cultural integrity and to a safe environment, following the State’s decision to build an international bridge and carry out an urban development plan in their territory, which would significantly alter their way of life. The communities demanded that a report on the relevant social and environmental impact should be previously prepared, as well as a survey among those who had historically occupied, used and owned the land. Furthermore, they demanded the title to the land where they lived. In November 2000, friendly settlement proceedings started within the framework of the IACHR. The State then committed to suspending the infrastructure project and a working group was formed with the aim of preparing a proposal for a land handover. Between 2002 and 2005, technical data were prepared and several agreements were reached to achieve the final goal of handing over land. In spite of such partial agreements, in late 2004, the government submitted a document establishing arbitrary land distribution criteria. The government later decided to interrupt the dialogue and left the negotiation table. Consequently, Lhaka Honhat, CELS and CEJIL asked the IACHR to adopt interim measures. The IACHR warned the State that if dialogue failed, an action would be filed with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Keywords: Asociación de Comunidades Aborígenes Lhaka Honhat. Caso Nº 12.094., Environmental Rights
Until today the IACHR has not adopted the requested interim measures.
Petitioners: Aboriginal Communities Association Lhaka Honhat (including 40 indigenous communities), represented by Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (http://www.cels.org.ar) and Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (http://www.cejil.org)
The Inter-American human rights protection system proved to be a useful mechanism to establish an effective negotiation framework with the State, in which the Commission plays the role of an arbiter and balances the unequal conditions between the parties. So far results include that the infrastructure project has come to a halt and the indigenous territory has been fractioned.