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Paraguay’s Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Slowly Improving

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On a recent visit to Paraguay, Kyung-wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the government has made progress to protect and respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the country, however obstacles still remain.

The progress she highlighted was the implementation of special offices within institutions of the government like the Ministries of Health and Education according to a report by the UN Human Rights office.

Even with progress there is a long ways to go in helping an indigenous population where 91.5 percent of it lives in rural areas, most of it the region of Chaco.

Chaco is difficult to access and lacks infrastructure, and sees its Indigenous Peoples working in slave-like conditions while living in poverty and facing discrimination when they try and move to urban areas. Women and children are usually the victims as they are forced into labor and sexual exploitation.

While on her visit Kang, heard from indigenous groups about the obstacles that hinder their progress. Besides, the difficult living conditions and labor issues, Indigenous Peoples face problems involving their everyday rights and possession and ownership of ancestral lands.

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The indigenous communities have been chased from their lands as a result of deforestation for livestock and agriculture. An issue the government has been slow to make progress with.

“I encourage the government to increase efforts to ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ rights are respected, their participation in decision-making processes is guaranteed and their right to prior consultation is exercised,” Kang said.

Some of the other obstacles Kang mentioned were the lack of an institutional autonomy, corruption, insufficient resources, and lack of authority over other state entities, all of which hinder making a real impact on public policies for the indigenous population.

“The promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples are very important for the UN and remain a major priority for our office,” Kang said. “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – of which Paraguay is a signatory – is the guide and the solution to ensure that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected.”

Listen to Kang’s remarks in the video below: