IACHR PUBLISHES REPORT ON CAPTIVE COMMUNITIES IN BOLIVIA
Washington, D.C., April 20, 2010—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today published the report Situation of the Guaraní Indigenous People and Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Bolivian Chaco.
The report analyzes the situation of the Guaraní indigenous people in the region known as the Bolivian Chaco, focusing particularly on the situation of Guaraní families subjected to conditions of debt bondage and forced labor on private estates. This phenomenon, which affects approximately 600 families, is known by reference to “captive communities,” and it clearly involves a contemporary form of slavery that should be eradicated immediately. The report also analyzes the situation these captive communities face in order to gain access to their ancestral territory.
In the report, the Commission recognizes the efforts made by the Bolivian State to address this grave situation; nevertheless, there are still captive communities whose members are subject to performing forced labor for debts supposedly contracted and who most of the time do not receive any salary for their work. The Commission deplores the existence of these practices, which violate the American Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments to which Bolivia is a party. The Commission also observes that the situation of bondage and forced labor in which the captive communities live is an extreme manifestation of the discrimination that indigenous peoples have suffered historically and continue suffering in Bolivia.
The report concludes with recommendations aimed at cooperating with the Bolivian State in its efforts to eradicate these contemporary forms of slavery and to guarantee and protect the human rights of the Guaraní indigenous people, especially their collective property, their right of access to justice, and their right to a dignified life. The recommendations include actions to prevent, investigate, and punish contemporary forms of slavery; reconstitute the territory of the Guaraní indigenous people; and guarantee access to justice for the Guaraní indigenous people and all other indigenous peoples in Bolivia.
The IACHR thanks the Governments of Denmark and Spain for the financial support that made it possible to carry out the working nd supervisory visit to Bolivia from June 9 to 13, 2008, as well as the preparation of this report. The contribution of the Government of Denmark was made in the framework of the project Strengthening of the Capacities of the Inter-American System of Human Rights in the Defense of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas; and the Government of Spain in the project Promotion for Participation and Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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