Comunidad Yanomami. Caso Nº 7615. Resolución Nº 12/85. [ENG]

Petition related to mass presence of foreigners and mining development in indigenous land. Human rights violations caused by the State's failure to provide adequate protection for the safety and health of indigenous communities. Indigenous peoples' rights to receive special protection.

Date of the Ruling: 
Mar 5 1985
Inter-American Comission on Human Rights
Type of Forum: 

A petition was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the State of Brazil and in favor of the Yanomami indigenous community. The case was based on the construction of a road and mining licenses granted in indigenous land, which had led to a massive presence of foreigners in the said territory and had had serious effects on the community's well-being, including the alteration of their traditional organization, emergence of female prostitution, epidemics and diseases, forced displacement to lands unsuitable to their ways of life, and death of hundreds of Yanomamis. The IACHR found the State was responsible for failing to take timely and effective measures to protect the Yanomamis' human rights. The IACHR concluded such failure had led to alterations in the community's well-being and violations to the right to life, liberty, security, residence and movement, and to the preservation of health and well-being. The IACHR considered that current international law acknowledges the right of indigenous groups to special protection for the use of their language, their religion and, in general, all elements essential to the preservation of their cultural identity. The IACHR recommended the State, in line with domestic legislation, to proceed to demarcate the Yanomami Park, to continue adopting preventive and remedial sanitary measures aimed at protecting the life and health of the Yanomami, and to ensure education, health protection and social integration programs aimed at the Yanomami were carried out in consultation with the indigenous community, as well as expert scientific, medical and anthropological advisors.

Keywords: Comunidad Yanomami. Caso Nº 7615. Resolución Nº 12/85, Health, Rights

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

In 1992, the land of the Yanomamis was finally demarcated as “Yanomami Park”. In a 1995 visit to Brazil, the IACHR was able to prove on site the presence of federal agency surveillance and healthcare stations in the Yanomami area. However, the Yanomamis' personal and collective integrity, as well as their environment, continue to be subject to aggression by intruding miners. State protection is weak and inconsistent.

Groups involved in the case: 

Petitioners: Yanomami indigenous community represented by The Indian Law Resource Center (, American Anthropological Association (, Survival International (, and Anthropology Resource Center.

Significance of the Case: 

This is one of the first reports in which the IACHR outlined the doctrine on the right of indigenous peoples to receive special protection aimed at enabling the preservation of their cultural identity. The IACHR also acknowledged their lack of title over their ancestral land as a key factor behind their situation of vulnerability.