Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Senate’s Approval of the Land Expropriation Bill in the First Instance as Part of the Friendly Settlement Process in the Case of the Y’akÔ Marangat˙ Indigenous Community of Paraguay.

July 29, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) celebrates the Chamber of Senators of Paraguay’s decision to approve the bill to expropriate 219 hectares in favor of the Y’akÔ Marangat˙ indigenous community, as part of the actions to comply with the friendly settlement agreement signed during the negotiation process between the community and the State.

On June 29, 2005, the IACHR received a petition allocating that the Paraguayan State was internationally responsible for violating the rights of the Y’akÔ Marangat˙ indigenous community of the Mbya People to their ancestral property. The petitioners indicated that the indigenous community was located in San Lorenzo in Itap˙a department, and that it was made up of 14 homes and a total of 67 people. They also indicated that the community lived on Farm 3238 in Capitan Meza district and Farm 581 in Carlos A. Lˇpez district, and that it has not been able obtain title deeds to its ancestral territory, despite making efforts to do so since 1995. The petitioners alleged that the community had been permanently harassed by the police and judicial authorities and threatened with eviction, and had also been affected by the actions of third parties in their ancestral territory.

The parties signed a friendly settlement agreement on March 2, 2009, through which the Paraguayan State acknowledged its international responsibility for the human rights violations that were committed to the detriment of the Y’akÔ Marangat˙ indigenous community of the Mbya People. The reparation measures agreed upon in the friendly settlement agreement included a commitment on the part of the Paraguayan State to implement proceedings to purchase or expropriate the 219 hectares claimed by the community.

The bill that was passed on May 28, 2020, “declares Farm No. 581, Registry 911, which has a surface area of 219 hectares and 4,112 square meters and is located in Carlos Antonio Lˇpez District, Itap˙a Department, to be of public interest and thus expropriates it in favor of the Paraguayan Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INDI). This project is motivated by the need to restore these lands to the indigenous community by means of expropriation, in compliance with the duty to respect the community’s right to its ancestral territory, and the duties of the different departments and branches of the Paraguayan State to coordinate with each other to comply fully with Paraguay’s international obligations.”

On this point, the IACHR Rapporteur for Paraguay, Commissioner Stuardo Ralˇn Orellana, noted that “the friendly settlement mechanism creates spaces for dialogue between petitioners and States in which they can reach agreements that establish reparation measures that benefit the alleged victims of the case in question but also have broad-reaching effects on society.”

The IACHR urged the State to move forward with getting the bill passed by the Chamber of Deputies and then enacted by the Office of the President so that the objective and purpose of the friendly settlement agreement and its core contents can become a reality, thus vindicating the rights of the Y’akÔ Marangat˙ indigenous community of the Mbya People of Paraguay. The IACHR thus urged the Paraguayan State to prioritize taking the necessary actions to comply with the other commitments set out in the friendly settlement agreement.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 181/20