Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Case of the Yakye Axa Indigenous Community v. Paraguay
Judgment of June 17, 2005
(Merits, Reparations and Costs)
In the case of the Yakye Axa Indigenous Community,
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Court” or “the Inter-American Court”), composed of the following judges:
Sergio García Ramírez, President;
Alirio Abreu Burelli, Vice-President;
Oliver Jackman, Judge;
Antônio A. Cançado Trindade, Judge;
Cecilia Medina Quiroga, Judge;
Manuel E. Ventura Robles, Judge;
Diego García-Sayán, Judge, and
Ramón Fogel Pedroso, Judge ad hoc;
Pablo Saavedra Alessandri, Secretary; and
Emilia Segares Rodríguez, Deputy Secretary,
pursuant to Articles 29, 31, 56, 57 and 58 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court (hereinafter “the Rules of Procedure”)1, and to Articles 63(2) and 63(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” or “the American Convention”), issues the instant Judgment.
Filing of the Case
1. On March 17, 2003 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission” or “the Inter-American Commission”) filed before the Inter-American Court an application against the State of Paraguay (hereinafter “the State” or “Paraguay”), originating in complaint No. 12.313, received at the Secretariat of the Commission on January 10, 2000.
2. The Commission filed the application based on Articles 51 and 61 of the American Convention, for the Court to decide whether Paraguay breached Articles 4 (Right to Life); 8 (Right to Fair Trial); 21 (Right to Property) and 25 (Judicial Protection) of the American Convention, in combination with the obligations set forth in Articles 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights) and 2 (Domestic Legal Effects) of that same Convention, to the detriment of the Yakye Axa Indigenous Community of the Enxet-Lengua People (hereinafter the “Yakye Axa indigenous Community”, the “Yakye Axa Community”, the “indigenous Community” or the “Community”) and its members. The Commission alleged that the State has not ensured the ancestral property rights of the Yakye Axa Indigenous Community and its members, because said Community’s land claim has been processed since 1993 but no satisfactory solution has been attained. According to the Commission in its application, this has made it impossible for the Community and its members to own and possess their territory, and has kept it in a vulnerable situation in terms of food, medical and public health care, constantly threatening the survival of the members of the Community and of the latter as such.
3. Due to the above, the Commission asked the Court to order the State to take certain steps as reparation and to reimburse costs and expenses.
4. The Inter-American Court has jurisdiction to hear the instant case, pursuant to Articles 62 and 63(1) of the American Convention, because Paraguay has been a State Party to the Convention since August 24, 1989, and it acknowledged the adjudicatory jurisdiction of the Court on March 26, 1993.
Proceeding with the Commission
5. On January 10, 2000, the non-governmental organizations “Tierraviva a los Pueblos Indígenas del Chaco paraguayo” (hereinafter “Tierraviva”) and the Center for Justice and International Law (hereinafter “CEJIL”) submitted to the Inter-American Commission a complaint on the alleged violation by Paraguay of the right embodied in Article 25 of the American Convention, in combination with the obligations set forth in Articles 1(1) and 2 of that Convention, to the detriment of the members of the Yakye Axa Indigenous Community.
6. On February 27, 2002, during its 114th Regular Session, the Commission adopted Admissibility Report No. 2/02, in which it found the case to be admissible, and made itself available to the parties for a friendly settlement.
7. On October 24, 2002, during its 116th Regular Session, the Commission, after analyzing the position of the parties and deeming the friendly settlement stage ended, adopted Report on the Merits No. 67/02, pursuant to the provisions of Article 50 of the Convention. In said report, the Commission recommended that Paraguay:
Take such measures as may be necessary, as soon as possible, to make effective the right of the Yakye Axa Indigenous Community of the Enxet-Lengua People and its members to ownership and possession of its ancestral territory, ordering the delimitation, demarcation and granting of title deed to its lands, in accordance with their customary law, values, practices, and customs.
Guarantee the exercise of their traditional subsistence activities by the members of the Community.
Take such measures as may be necessary to put an end to the state of nutritional, medical, and sanitary emergency of the Community.
Take such measures as may be necessary to protect the habitat claimed by the Community, as long as the granting of title deed to their ancestral territory in favor of the Indigenous Community is pending.
Establish an effective and simple remedy for the protection of the right of the Indigenous Peoples of Paraguay to claim and have access to their traditional territories.
Make reparations, both at the individual and communal level, for the consequences of the violation of the rights listed.
Take such measures as may be necessary to avoid similar facts in the future, in accordance with the duty of prevention and guarantee with regard to the basic rights recognized in the American Convention.
8. On November 18, 2002 the Commission forwarded the aforementioned report to the State and granted it two months time, from the date it was sent, to report on the steps taken to comply with its recommendations. On that same date the Commission, in compliance with Article 43(3) of its Rules of Procedure, notified Tierraviva and CEJIL that it had adopted Report on the Merits No. 67/02 and had forwarded it to the State, and ask them to state their position, within one month’s time, with regard to filing the case before the Court.
9. On February 19, 2003, after an extension granted, the State sent its reply to the recommendations made by the Commission in Report on the Merits No. 67/02. After analyzing the State’s reply to the aforementioned recommendations, the Commission decided to file the instant case before the Inter-American Court.