Paraguay: Restitute lands of the Sawhoyamaxa indigenous community

On 9 December, 2013, ESCR-Net sent a letter to the President of the Republic of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, as well as to the Presidents of the Commission on Land Reform and Rural Wellbeing, the State Accounts and Financial Management Commission and Juan Dario Monges Espinola, the Finance and Budgets Commission of the Senate of Paraguay. The letter expressed the Network's collective support for the prompt implementation of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ legally-binding decision on the case the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community v. Paraguay (March 29, 2006), requiring the restitution of the Sawhoyamaxa’s original lands. The letter underscores ESCR-Net's concern that failure to implement this decision has led to ongoing and further violations of human rights, including the rights to life and property, interpreted by the Court to include access to health, water and food, among others.

ESCR-Net's letter details the manner in which, by being deprived of their lands, the Sawhoyamaxa community has also been prevented from engaging in their traditional hunting, fishing and gathering activities which has affected their cultural and religious identity and their right to food and impoverished many families. The letter calls on the Paraguayan government, to take all necessary steps to ensure prompt restitution of the land of the Sawhoyamaxa people, by advancing with the expropriation of traditional lands from private owners in compliance with the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and to ensure that past and current human rights violations are not perpetuated.

After the letter was sent to the President, the Commission on Financial Administration recommended the Senate to approve the bill on the expropriation of the Sawhoyamaxa lands. This is a first step towards restitution. Two other Commissions also need to issue their opinions on the bill.

See the complete letter (English) here.

Media coverage of the press release delivered by ESCR-Net (in Spanish):

Diario ABC Color:
Diario Palo Rubin
Diario Digital Neike