Press Release

IACHR Publishes Report 256/20 on Petition 747-05, Y’akâ Marangatú Indigenous Community of the Mbya People, Concerning Paraguay

October 26, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve the friendly settlement agreement relating to petition 747-05, Y’akâ Marangatú Indigenous Community of the Mbya People, signed on March 2, 2009, between the victims, their representatives, and the Paraguayan State.

On June 29, 2005, the IACHR received a petition presented by Mirta Pereira Giménez, representing the alleged victims, against the Paraguayan State, in which she alleged that the Paraguayan State was internationally responsible for violating the rights of the Y’akâ Marangatú indigenous community of the Mbya People to their ancestral property. The petitioners stated that the indigenous community was located in San Lorenzo in Itapúa department, and that it was composed of 14 homes and included a total of 67 people. They also stated that the community lived on Farm 3238 in Capitan Meza district and Farm 581 in Carlos A. López district, and that despite having made efforts to obtain title deeds to its ancestral territory since 1995, it had not yet achieved this. The petitioners alleged that the community had been continually 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. They also claimed that on April 8, 1997, the community’s lawyer reiterated a request for recognition of the boundaries of the lands the community is claiming, as a result of which a resolution was issued requesting that the National Congress expropriate the property claimed by the indigenous community via the Office of the President.

In the friendly settlement agreement signed by the parties on March 2, 2009, the Paraguayan State acknowledged its international responsibility for the human rights violations that were committed to the detriment of the Y’akâ Marangatú indigenous community of the Mbya People and committed to implementing the following measures of reparation: i) comply with the amparo ruling and precautionary measures; ii) provide the mechanisms needed for the Justice of the Peace to acknowledge the resolutions relating to protecting the territory and carry out the appropriate actions to comply with this; iii) audit pollution and contamination in the area and carry out an environmental impact evaluation; iv) follow up on ecological crimes that allegedly took place in the area in question; v) develop a support program for the community’s subsistence farming; vi) provide the community with basic food and drinking water; vii) investigate the alleged damages the community has suffered; viii) provide periodic medical assistance to the community and provide the necessary supplies; ix) build and equip a school and provide teachers, teaching materials, and basic furniture; x) directly purchase or expropriate 219 hectares for the community; and xi) inform the parties of all developments.

In response, in Friendly Settlement Report No. 256/20, the IACHR welcomed the total fulfillment of the commitments relating to the acknowledgment of protection measures before the Justice of the Peace; the auditing of pollution and contamination in the area; the program to support subsistence farming in the community; and the construction and fitting out of a school, including the provision of teachers, materials, and basic furniture.

Furthermore, in relation to the tenth clause, concerning the commitment to carry out the pertinent procedures for the direct purchase or expropriation of the 219 hectares claimed by the community, the IACHR valued the series of actions carried out by the State to make the sanctioning of the expropriation law effective. This was passed on September 18, 2020, by the Presidency of the Republic of Paraguay. As a consequence, the IACHR observed that partial substantial compliance with the agreement had been achieved and urged the State to report on its progress when the lands have appropriated in favor of the community. In this sense, it deemed that partial substantial compliance had been achieved with the commitment to provide the community with medical care.

With regard to the commitments relating to compliance with the amparo ruling and the precautionary measure to protect the community against interference from third parties and measures for basic food and drinking water, the IACHR deemed that these had been partially complied with and decided to continue supervising these aspects of the agreement, and the measure for to investigate ecological crimes and damage caused to the community, which it understood were pending compliance.

The IACHR praised the fact that the parties made use of its facilitation in this negotiation process and emphasizes the actions carried out to implement the agreement. It also urged the Paraguayan State to continue working to implement the measures that are pending until the commitments taken on have been fully complied with.

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. 260/20