Legal Correspondent: Reeti Shetty
13th October, 2021: The UN Human Rights Committee ruled on Wednesday that Paraguay's inability to prevent harmful pollution of indigenous people's customary lands by commercial farming breaches their rights and feeling of "home." The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is monitored by the Committee, composed of 18 independent professionals from throughout the world.
The ruling derives from a suit filed on behalf of 201 Ava Guarani people from the Campo Agua'e indigenous community in the Curuguaty province of eastern Paraguay more than a decade ago. They reside in an area surrounded by enormous commercial farms that utilize fumigation to produce genetically modified soybeans, a procedure that requires the use of illegal pesticides. Fumigation destroyed the indigenous community's whole way of life for more than ten years, killing animals, contaminating waterways, and endangering people's health. According to the UN investigation, the harm had significant intangible consequences. Indigenous knowledge was lost owing to a lack of natural resources for hunting, fishing, and foraging. Ceremonial baptisms, for example, are no longer performed since the right ingredients are no longer available. The indigenous people of Paraguay filed a complaint with the Human Rights Committee after a long and unsuccessful administrative and judicial process in Paraguay's courts. "The investigations have not progressed in any meaningful way more than 12 years after the victims filed their criminal complaint regarding the fumigation with toxic agrochemicals, to which they have continued to be exposed throughout this period, and the State party has not justified the delay," the Committee said in its decision.
Paraguay did not sufficiently oversee the fumigation and did not prevent contamination, according to the members. The Committee recommended that Paraguay finish the criminal and administrative proceedings against all parties involved and compensate the victims completely.
The authorities also were urged to take all necessary steps to rectify the environmental harm and seek to prevent such violations in the future, in close contact with the indigenous community.
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