The UN Human Rights Committee concluded in a historical opinion that Paraguay violated the rights of an indigenous community by failing to prevent contamination of ancestral lands that inhabits by the intensive use of pesticides of agricultural companies. “This fumigation has killed the livestock of the indigenous community and affected their subsistence crops and fruit trees, as well as resources from hunting, fishing and gathering,” the resolution indicates.
The United Nations entity described the ruling as historic because is the first to establish that, in the case of indigenous peoples, the notion of “domicile” should be understood as “the special relationship they have with their territories, including their livestock, crops, and their way of life related to hunting, gathering and fishing “.
One of the members of the United Nations committee, Helen Tigroudja, emphasized that “for indigenous peoples, their lands represent their home, culture and community”. For this reason, “serious environmental damage has an impact on family life, tradition and the identity of indigenous peoples, and even leads to the disappearance of their community.” Ultimately, according to Tigroudja, the situation “drastically damages the cultural survival of the group as a whole”.
The case of the indigenous community of Campo Agua’ẽ
The Committee’s opinion responds to a complaint filed by an indigenous leader and a teacher from the community school, on behalf of the 201 members of the Campo Agua’ẽ indigenous community, of the Ava Guaraní People. The community, located in the department of Canindeyú, lives in an area surrounded by large agricultural companies that spray to produce genetically modified soybeans.
These companies have fumigated their crops for more than ten years with prohibited agrochemicals, which caused the death of indigenous livestock, affected their crops and fruit trees and damaged their health. Environmental damage also caused the disappearance of natural resources necessary for hunting, fishing, gathering in the forest or even traditional practices of the Guaraní culture, damages that led some families to emigrate from the area.
The indigenous community presented complaints to the Paraguayan justice without obtaining results before taking the case before the UN Human Rights Committee. “This omission in their duty to protect allowed that they continued for many years massive fumigations and contrary to internal regulations, destroying constituent elements of the private, family life and domicile of the affected indigenous community“, warns the opinion.
The UN committee concludes that Paraguay “violated the rights of an indigenous community to their traditional lands and to their understanding of domicile, due to the lack of prevention and control of toxic contamination of their lands caused by the intensive use of pesticides by companies. neighboring farms “.
Finally, it recommends that the Paraguayan State fully compensate the victims for the damage suffered, “take all necessary measures to repair environmental degradation” and “take steps to prevent similar violations in the future“.