REPORT Nº 12/03
February 20, 2003


1.On May 15, 2001, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the
Commission” or “the IACHR”) received a petition submitted by the non-governmental
organization Tierraviva para los Pueblos Indígenas de Chaco, TIERRAVIVA (hereinafter “the
petitioners”) in representation of the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community of the Enxet
People and its members (hereinafter the “Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous Community” or the
“Indigenous Community”) against the Republic of Paraguay (hereinafter “the Paraguayan
State” or “the State”). In the petition, it is alleged that the Paraguayan State has violated
Articles 1 (obligation to respect the rights), 2 (duty to adopt provisions of domestic law), 8(1)
(right to a fair trial), 21 (right to private property), and 25 (judicial protection), all of the
American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” or “the American
Convention”) to the detriment of the Indigenous Community and its members.
2. The petitioners argue that more than 11 years have gone by since the procedures were first
set in motion to recover part of the ancestral lands of the Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous
Community, yet to date that initiative has not been favorably resolved, even though
Paraguayan legislation recognizes the right of the indigenous peoples to develop their ways of
life in their own habitat, and that the State has not protected the lands claimed. In addition,
they argue that the members of the Community are living in sub-human conditions; as a
result, several people, including minors, have died due to lack of adequate food and lack of
medical care. As regards the admissibility requirements, the petitioners allege that their
petition is admissible by virtue of the exceptions to the requirement of prior exhaustion of
domestic remedies set out at Article 46(2) of the Convention.
3. The State, for its part, in its first communication, stated that in keeping with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs policy of participating with the international human rights bodies, it is
considered that cases that have been presented that meet the requirements for being
addressed internationally have priority for the Government of Paraguay, and as the complaint
lodged on behalf of the Sawhoyamaxa has such characteristics, it expressed its interest in
reaching a friendly settlement.
4. The Commission, after analyzing the parties’ positions and compliance with the
requirements provided for in Articles 46 and 47 of the Convention, concluded that it is
competent to take cognizance of the claim, and declared the petition admissible with respect to
Articles 2, 8(1), 21, and 25 of the Convention, in conjunction with Article 1(1).


5. On May 15, 2001, the Commission received the petition against the Paraguayan State, and
on June 6 it received additional information from the petitioners. On June 7, 2001, the
Commission transmitted the pertinent parts to the State, and requested that it submit a
response to the petition within two months.
6. On August 1, 2001, the State expressed its interest in pursuing a friendly settlement, and
on August 2, the Commission requested the petitioners to submit their observations within 15
7. On August 27, 2001, the Commission called the parties to a working meeting on October 1,
to discuss issues related to the petition; that meeting was postponed to November 13. On


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