UN Human Rights Committee Upholds Indigenous Rights
Roos Willemijn Craanen
Researcher at the International Justice and Human Rights Team
On the 13th of October 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Committee held that Paraguay’s failure to install adequate preventative measures to inhibit the contamination of indigenous’ people’s lands with pesticides, violated the rights and sense of ‘home’ of the Campo Agua’e’ indigenous community (United Nations Human Rights of the High Commissioner, 2021). The original complaint was lodged 12 years ago in a Paraguayan court, but to no avail. The Campo Agua’e’ people live close to an industrial farming area which produces genetically modified soybeans. The Committee held that that the toxins released in the production process contaminated the local water, killed a variety of livestock, and impacted the ability of the indigenous community to practice their traditions. In the Committee’s view, the slow destruction of natural resources eroded the community’s traditional knowledge. In particular it noted the disappearance of the community’s baptism practice, liquor production and the construction of dance houses. In fact, the Committee went as far to recognise that all these factors taken together jeopardise the future of the indigenous community’s cultural identity. To that end, the Committee instructed Paraguay to conduct a proper investigation on the commercial farms, the damage done to the environment and to make meaningful reparations to the victims. For more detailed information and source, please visit:
Sources and further reading:
United Nations Human Rights Committee (13 October 2021). Paraguay: Failing to Prevent Contamination Violates Indigenous People’s Right to Traditional Land. United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27651&LangID=E.