Enxet-Lamenxay and Kayleyphapopyet (Riachito). Case Nº 11.713. Report No. 90/999. [ENG]

Petition filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for violation of right to ancestral land. Friendly settlement. Transfer of claimed land and issuance of title documents in favor of indigenous communities.

Date of the Ruling: 
Mar 25 1998
Inter-American Comission on Human Rights
Type of Forum: 

Representatives of the Lamenxay and Kayleyphapopyet indigenous communities, both of the Enxet-Sanapana people, started proceedings aimed at recovering their ancestral land, which had been sold by the Paraguayan State to private persons. After five years of the State's failure to comply with a court decision acknowledging the constitutional land right of one of the communities, in 1996 a petition was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the State of Paraguay. The petition alleged violations of the rights to judicial protection, fair trial, property, residence and the benefits of culture under the American Declaration and Convention on Human Rights. On March 25, 1998 a friendly settlement agreement was signed, under which the State committed itself to purchasing approximately 22,000 hectares in the Paraguayan Chaco region and returning them to the said indigenous communities, providing the relevant deeds of ownership. The State also guaranteed to provide food, sanitary and educational assistance. The land was returned in late July 1998 and by November 1998 the whole population had definitely settled down in their regained land. In July 1999, title deeds were issued under the communities' name.

Keywords: Enxet-Lamenxay and Kayleyphapopyet (Riachito). Case Nº 11.713. Report No. 90/999, Education, Rights


Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

In November 2000, a report was filed with the IACHR regarding the implementation of the friendly settlement. The communities reported that food and medical assistance had been sporadic and had failed to cover all communities. As of this date no major progress has been achieved in terms of food, sanitary and educational assistance.

Groups involved in the case: 

Petitioners: Tierra Viva a los Pueblos Indígenas del Chaco (http://www.tierraviva.org.py) and Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) (http://www.cejil.org), on behalf of the Enxet-Lamenxay and Kayleyphapopyet communities.

Significance of the Case: 

This case shows the useful role played by the Inter-American human rights system to establish a fruitful environment to negotiate with States, in particular when domestic courts are reluctant to enforce international commitments. Within the framework of amicable settlement proceedings, the IACHR plays the role of an arbitrator, seeking to offset the inequality of power between the parties.