Mapuche Paynemil and Kaxipayiñ Communities, Case Nº 12.010. [ENG]

Complaint filed with the IACHD alleging failure to comply with court decision ordering the State to supply with drinking water a population exposed to water contaminated with lead and mercury, as well as to ascertain damages and provide necessary medical treatment. Violation of right to effective judicial protection.

Date of the Ruling: 
Feb 5 2013
Inter-American Comission on Human Rights
Type of Forum: 

Neuquén Province's Official Defender of Minors filed a complaint with the IACHD alleging violation of children's right to the protection required by their status as minors, as well as of rights to health, a healthy environment, land ownership and effective remedy. The Official Defender had filed an amparo action to protect the health of children and youth in the Paynemil Mapuche community exposed to consumption of water contaminated with lead and mercury. The court had ordered the provincial government to provide an immediate supply of emergency water within 2 days and a permanent supply of water through any possible means within 45 days; to conduct studies to ascertain damages in the population caused by heavy metal contamination and, if damages were found, to provide necessary treatment; and to take all necessary measures to prevent environmental damage. Given the State's failure to fully comply with the court order, a complaint was filed with the IACHD. Within the framework of a hearing, the Argentine State committed itself to provide affected children with treatment at Gutierrez Hospital, in Buenos Aires city. In addition, it was agreed that a water treatment plant under construction would be monitored by both Mapuche communities. Finally, the State committed itself to disclosing information about the Loma de la Lata field development, particularly about the location of abandoned wells, oxidation pools and piping.

Keywords: Mapuche Paynemil and Kaxipayiñ Communities, Case Nº  12.010., Health Rights

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

The Argentine State failed to comply with the agreement. Although the IACHR conducted a visit to the country in August 2001, met with the parties and held two additional work meetings (October 2001 and August 2003), there has been no major progress so far. The State continues to argue that the case should not have been accepted for consideration by the IACHR. (See under Secondary Literature: Carlos Falaschi O. and Nara Osés, “CIDH: La causa N° 12.010. Comunidades Mapuche Paynemil y Kaxipayiñ, Neuquén, Argentina”).

Groups involved in the case: 

Petitioners: Paynemil and Kaxipayiñ Mapuche communities, represented by Nara E. Osés, Neuquén Province’s Official Defender of Children’s and Adolescents’ Rights (email:

Significance of the Case: 

This case shows the key importance of having access to an international protection mechanism when national authorities fully ignore the fundamental rights of vulnerable sectors such as indigenous children. Although so far no significant progress has been made, international scrutiny poses additional pressure upon the State to comply with domestic court orders.