Denunciation of peasant rights violations in Paraguay
Press Release - FIAN International and La Via Campesina - Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform
Geneva, 14/11/07. FIAN y La Vía Campesina denounced today before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) that the right to adequate food of thousands of peasant and indigenous families in Paraguay has been violated and is seriously threatened due to the failure in the implementation of agrarian reform legislation, as well as to the forced evictions and the aggressive soya expansion that are taking place. José Bodadilla, representative of MCP-La Vía Campesina declared: "The Agrarian Reform Institute has very scarce resources and is not able to manage land allocation in a quantitative and qualitative appropriate way, in order to enable families to settle down; moreover, it has not measured or marked adequately the indigenous territories. The Paraguayan State has done nothing to regain the land inappropriately allocated (lands that were illegally assigned in the past to people who did not qualify as agrarian reform beneficiaries), which extension could amount up to 9 million hectares. This surface would be enough to settle 300 thousand landless families in Paraguay".
On the other hand, the decisions taken by the judiciary on forced evictions of peasant families who pacifically occupied the land, and the interventions of the national police in these evictions -setting fire and destroying houses, crops and goods- have been reported as serious breaches of the obligations of the Paraguayan State to respect the access these families had to livelihood. "Judges should enforce civil jurisdiction to deal with the claims deriving from the pacific occupation of the land that is not fulfilling its social function" stated Alberto Alderete, from the Comprehensive Legal Service for Agrarian Development (SEIJA). Moreover, the Paraguayan State has not protected peasant families from the pressure exerted by soya producers to size their lands.
The CESCR is the UN body that veils for the fulfilment of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, signed by Paraguay. The State Parties have the obligation to report regularly the Committee on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. In the current session period, the Committee is examining Paraguay. Apart from the official report from the Paraguayan Government, civil society organizations, including FIAN and La Vía Campesina, have submitted parallel reports on the realization status of the ESCR in this country. Sandra Ratjen, representative of FIAN International highlighted: "We urge the Paraguayan State to evaluate systematically and publicly, and in cooperation with the affected population, the effects that the soya expansion has in the enjoyment of human rights of rural communities; and to use the maximum available resources to develop a comprehensive agrarian reform policy, based on the peasant family agriculture and guaranteeing the realization of the right to feed oneself".
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