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Inter-American commission cutbacks jeopardize indigenous peoples’ rights

May 24 2016
Indigenous peoples access to justice will be severely affected by recent cutbacks in the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is going through a severe financial crisis that will have serious consequences on its ability to fulfill its mandate and carry out its basic functions, the Organisation of American States (OAS) announced yesterday.

“Thousands of victims of human rights violations will be left unprotected”, the OAS warned.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is a mechanism which, over the course of its history, has shown a strong commitment to human rights, both during the complex and difficult times of the military dictatorships in Latin America and, in more recent years, by admitting hundreds of complaints from indigenous communities for violations of their rights.

“The Inter-American Human Rights system has been a crucial space for defending human rights in Latin America. In recent years, indigenous peoples’ demands have been well-received by the Commission and hundreds of cases have been considered in public hearings held at its headquarters in Washington. The Commission has also made very important visits to countries in the region and produced thematic documents of significant relevance to indigenous peoples, such as the recent report on the impact of the extractive industries on indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples. This paralysis in the Commission’s activities is a hard blow for Latin American civil society as a whole and so an urgent reaction is needed from the human rights movements to ensure that Member States fulfil their obligation to ensure the Commission’s functioning,” says Alejandro Parellada from the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.

IWGIA has been supporting the Indigenous Peoples’ Rapporteur for three years with Norwegian funding, most recently resulting in the publishing of a study about indigenous peoples and extractive industries, but has no further possibility of continuing this support. Denmark has also discontinued its significant support (after a recent external evaluation highlighted the evident professionalism of the Inter-American system) and a number of OAS member countries are not contributing their dues or are doing so only with heavy delays.



Read the full press release here: