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REPORT No. 2/12
CASE 12.094
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES OF THE
LHAKA HONHAT (OUR LAND) ASSOCIATION
MERITS
ARGENTINA
January 26, 2012

I.

SUMMARY

1.
On August 4, 1998, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the
“Inter-American Commission” or the “IACHR”) received a petition against the State of Argentina
(hereinafter the “State” or the “State of Argentina”) concerning the lack of guarantee of the territorial rights
of the indigenous communities that inhabit Fiscal Lots 55 and 14 of the Department of Rivadavia, in the
Province of Salta. The petition was presented by the Lhaka Honhat (Our Land) Association of Aboriginal
Communities (hereinafter the “Lhaka Honhat Association”, the “Association” or “Lhaka Honhat”), with the
support of the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) and the Center for Justice and International
Law (CEJIL), in representation of the indigenous communities that form part of said Association, claiming
the violation of numerous human rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights
(hereinafter the “American Convention” or the “Convention”).
2.
After a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful friendly settlement process conducted
between 1999 and 2005, the IACHR approved Admissibility Report No. 78/06 on October 21, 2006, in
which it declared the petition admissible with regard to the alleged violations of the rights established in
Articles 8(1), 13, 23, 21 and 25 of the American Convention, in relation to the State obligations derived
from Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention.
3.
In the petition and in their observations on the merits, the petitioners allege that the State
of Argentina violated, to the detriment of the indigenous communities that form part of the Lhaka Honhat
Association, the rights to territorial property, prior consultation and participatory environmental impact
assessments with regard to the public works carried out in their territory, access to information, political
rights, access to justice and judicial protection, life, physical integrity, health and subsistence, culture,
residence, privacy and family life, protection of the family, and freedom of association.
4.
On several occasions the State emphasized the importance of the issue and consistently
expressed it’s commitment to achieve a resolution of the case. In that regard it provided various progress
reports from both the Provincial and the National Government. However, at a public hearing held at the
headquarters of the Commission on November 2, 2009, the Federal Government asked the Commission
to issue the merits report on the case since a friendly settlement hadn’t been achieved.
5.
After factual and legal analyses, the Commission has concluded (a) that the State of
Argentina violated the right to property of the indigenous communities that form part of the Lhaka Honhat
Association, because the State failed to give the communities effective title to their ancestral territory; (b)
their right to property was also violated insofar as the State failed to implement provincial decrees legally
recognizing the right to a single shared title to territory for the communities of the Fiscal Lots; (c) the State
violated petitioners right to due process, because the State did not afford them an effective procedure to
acquire title to their ancestral territory. The Commission also concludes that (d) the State of Argentina
violated the right to property of the petitioner indigenous communities, as well as their members’ right of
access to information, in having carried out public works and having granting a concession for oil and gas
exploration in the indigenous ancestral territory without complying with the requirements set by inter1

Commissioner Felipe González did not take part in the deliberations or decision of this case, in accordance with the
provisions of Article 17.2.b of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure.

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