Asuncion, December 1, 2017.- A delegation from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, including Judge Patricio Pazmiño and staff of the Secretariat, made a visit to the indigenous communities of Yakye Axa, Sawhoyamaxa, and Xkamok Kasek in the Paraguayan Chaco, on November 27 and 29. After the visit a hearing that took place in Asunción on November 30th.
The purpose of the visit and the hearing was to verify the status of compliance with the rulings of the Inter-American Court related to the Yakye Axa communities. The visit was attended by representatives of the communities such as senior representatives of different state institutions, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and Tierra Viva.
The delegation was able to certify the situation of extreme poverty and exclusion in which the community of Yakye Axa is living, which showed non-compliance of that the State with the ruling of the Court. The community continues to live in the side of a public road, without access to potable water, in houses of extreme precariousness and without adequate health, nutrition or education services.
Verónica Fernández, community leader, told Judge Pazmiño "Where the community lives we only suffer, the State treats us as if we were animals next to the road"
In 2012, the Paraguayan State purchased lands for the community. However, Yakye Axa has not been able to access them, given that the State has not done the necessary procedures to grant them those lands, and it has not built an access road. Community leaders pointed out that being able to settle on their lands is the key to an improvement in their living conditions and development as indigenous peoples.
The Yakye Axa, Sawhoyaxama, and Xkamok Kasek peoples are determined to claim their territories and rights to preserve their cultures. As one of the leaders expressed, "I was born into the fight, I grew up in the fight and I became a fighter."
During the hearing, Judge Pazmiño said that the delegation of the Court was very concerned by the conditions in which the community lives, urged the State to accelerate the implementation of the measures ordered by the Court, and as a result, the authorities made commitments to provide emergency assistance to the Yakye Axa people, and to guarantee their access to land in 2018.
"This visit by the Court was crucial to face the State due to its delay in complying with its international obligations, and the effects that this causes on the subsistence of indigenous peoples in Paraguay," said María Noel Leoni, senior lawyer of CEJIL.
CEJIL expects compliance with the commitments made by the State, which will be monitored closely by the Court.