Friday, December 09, 2011

Argentina: Argentina must improve living conditions for indigenous groups

UN - A United Nations expert urged Argentina to strengthen its measures to protect the human rights of indigenous groups as well as their rights to land ownership and education, adding that a mechanism to establish dialogue between them and the Government is urgently needed.

“It is necessary that the Government prioritize indigenous issues, develop new programmes and public policies for them, and that it ensure that these are implemented in line with international standards,” said UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous rights James Anaya after his 11-day visit to the country.

“A central preoccupation expressed by indigenous leaders during my visit was the lack of judicial security over their land ownership rights and in particular the various problems and delays they face regarding their properties,” Mr. Anaya said, referring to recent instances where land initially occupied by indigenous groups has been appropriated by the Government.

Many of the land disputes, Mr. Anaya noted, have occurred between indigenous groups and private companies – in particular excavating firms – which have been enabled by judicial authorities.

Mr. Anaya emphasized the “lack of dialogue and participation with the affected indigenous groups before undertaking such projects, and the lack of their role in the decision-making process, as well as of sharing the benefits of the projects resulting from use of their lands.”

During his visit, Mr. Anaya held meetings with several representatives of indigenous communities in various provinces as well as with Government authorities in the capital, Buenos Aires.

Mr. Anaya also stressed the need to give indigenous groups in remote areas access to adequate education that includes bilingual and intercultural exchanges to keep indigenous dialects alive, as well as facilitating the university attendance.

A full report on Mr. Anaya’s visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council next year.