Human Rights, Property, Criminal, Remedies, Evidence, Inspections, Land Tenure, Indigenous Rights, Constitutional, Land Use

This case was concerned with the indigenous community of Yakye Axa who was resettled as part of a development program in Paraguay.

As a traditional community of hunter-gatherers, the lands to which they were displaced made them unable to live within their traditional means of subsistence seeing as the natural environment and resources were different from their traditional territory.

Additionally, they had to live in poor conditions with a lack of water and food which caused many deaths of children, youths and elderly people.

In 1996 the Yakye Axa left their settlement to try to reclaim their traditional lands, but were denied access to them. After that, they resettled alongside a national road next to the ancestral land where they also experienced poor living conditions without toilets or sanitary facilities and without a nearby health centre. The community requested the State to legalize the ancestral lands for them, but they failed to do so. As a consequence, the Yakye Axa filed a petition before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Court decided that the State of Paraguay violated Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights due to the failure to take the necessary measures to ensure the community members’ right to life. It noted that ensuring the right to life includes the State’s duty to take concrete steps in guaranteeing “minimum living conditions” which ensure human dignity for every person, especially for those that are vulnerable and at risk.