Paraguay’s Indigenous Peoples in peril

The Paraguayan state is failing to adequately protect the rights of its Indigenous Peoples, forcing many to live in misery and effectively condemning some to death, Amnesty International has said.

The Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous communities have been displaced from their traditional lands and are unable to source water and food for themselves and with inadequate provision of health and education.

“In these conditions, the very survival of the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa is at risk,” said Louise Finer, Paraguay researcher at Amnesty International. “But the government has the power to show its commitment to Indigenous Peoples’ rights by fully complying with the Court’s rulings. These two communities have waited long enough.”

The Court set a deadline of 13 July 2008 for the restitution of traditional lands to the Yakye Axa and of 19 May 2009 for the Sawhoyamaxa. The Court also ordered that the Paraguayan state must provide the communities with basic services – such as sanitation, medical care, food and water – to ensure they are able to survive until their lands are returned.

More than 27 members of the two communities have died of preventable causes since those judgements were passed. In the past four months, six of the Sawhoyamaxa have died after suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, among them four infants under the age of two.

Some action has been taken by President Fernando Lugo, but much more needs to be done, and much faster,” said Louise Finer. “The clock is ticking fast for the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa and unless their lands are returned and funds are made available for their development, more lives could be lost.”
AmnestyInternational:, 31 March 2009

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