Statement | 29-04-2014
Sawhoyamaxa Paraguay Indigenous Peoples Justiciability

Expropriation bill brings closer return of the Sawhoyamaxa ancestral lands

FIAN welcomes the Paraguayan Senate’s approval of a bill that would restitute the ancestral territory to the Sawhoyamaxa indigenous community

Land occupation, March 2013. Photo: Tierra Viva

On April 24, a majority of the Senate of Paraguay voted in favor of an expropriation bill that would restitute to the community around 14,000 hectares that are currently owned by the companies Roswel and Kansol. The Sawhoyamaxa have been struggling for the return of their ancestral territory for the last twenty years. One year ago, on 21 March 2013, some families decided to occupy the lands they are claiming in order to renew their urgent call upon the Paraguayan State to implement a ruling of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. In 2006 the court had found Paraguay guilty of violating the Sawhoyamaxa's right to their territory and several human rights.

Ever since its displacement, the community has been living in precarious conditions close to the highway that leads from Concepción to Pozo Colorado. The impossibility to access their ancestral territory is at the core of ongoing violations of several human rights of the members of the community, including their right to food, to water, to housing and to health.

Until today the Paraguayan authorities have not taken the necessary steps to restitute the land to the community, as required by the binding court ruling. The expropriation bill that passed the Senate is an important step towards the restitution of their territory to the Sawhoyamaxa. The bill has now to be adopted by the House of Representatives before it can be signed by President Cartes.

FIAN has been supporting the claims of the Sawhoyamaxa over the last eight years, along with other Paraguayan and international human rights organizations, and will continue to support the community until justice is restored. In a letter sent to the Senators, FIAN called upon them to vote in favor of the bill, in order to comply with Paraguay's human rights obligations and rectify the country's historical debt to the Sawhoyamaxa and indigenous peoples in general.

Read below FIAN's letter of support to the bill