Nicaragua: Government Returns Land Title to Indigenous Peoples

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Subject: Nicaragua: Government returns land title to Indigenous peoples
From:    “wsdp” <wsdp@igc.org>
Date:    Fri, December 19, 2008 9:49 am
To:      wsdp@igc.org
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—–Original Message—–
From: First Peoples Human Rights Coalition
[mailto:info@firstpeoplesrights.org]
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 10:54 AM
To: info@firstpeoplesrights.org
Subject: Nicaragua: Government returns land title to Indigenous peoples

[Forwarded by Don Bain–donb@ubcic.bc.ca]

UN News Centre–UN News service
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29336&Cr=indigenous+rights& Cr1=
Nicaragua’s titling of native lands marks crucial step for indigenous rights – UN expert

17 December 2008. An independent United Nations human rights expert has praised the Nicaraguan Government for giving the indigenous Awas Tingni community the title to its traditional lands, marking the culmination of a decades-long struggle by the group to gain recognition and protection of its ancestral territory.
“This affirmative step by the Government of Nicaragua represents an important advancement in the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya.

The Government, in a ceremony on 14 December, gave the Awas Tingni–one of the many indigenous communities that populate the country’s Atlantic Coast region–the title to its ancestral territory, which consists of some 74,000 hectares of densely forested lands.
The long-awaited move was several years in the making and follows a historic August 2001 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua.

The Court found that Nicaragua had violated the rights of the community by granting concessions to log within its traditional lands and for failing to recognize Awas Tingni property rights in those lands.
In its decision, the Court found that the right to property, as affirmed in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, protects the
traditional land tenure of indigenous peoples.

“This was the first case in which an international tribunal with legally binding authority found a Government in violation of the collective land rights of an indigenous group, setting an important precedent in
international law,” stated a news release issued by the UN.

Mr. Anaya, who was present at the ceremony, noted that the titling of Awas Tingni’s lands reflects a commitment on the part of the Nicaraguan Government to implement the judgment of the Inter-American Court.
“In addition, it provides a model for other Governments to comply with their international legal obligations to recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional lands and resources in
practice,” he stated.
Special Rapporteurs serve in an independent unpaid capacity and report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
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At:
http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/234CD4E9ED9B7862C12575 22003DA54C?opendocument

UNITED NATIONS

Press Release
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UN expert praises Nicaragua for formally confirming land ownership for indigenous group

17 December 2008

GENEVA–On 14 December 2008, the Government of Nicaragua, in a long-awaited ceremony, gave the Awas Tingni community the title to its ancestral territory, which consists of some 74,000 hectares of densely forested lands. “This affirmative step by the Government of Nicaragua represents an important advancement in the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Professor James Anaya.

The Special Rapporteur congratulated the Government of Nicaragua on completing the demarcation and titling of the lands of Awas Tingni, a Mayangna community that is one of the many indigenous communities that populate the country’s Atlantic Coast region. The titling of Awas
Tingni’s territory marks the culmination of a decades-long struggle by the community to gain recognition and protection of its ancestral lands.

On 31 August 2001, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its decision in the case of Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua, finding that Nicaragua had violated the rights of the Awas Tingni community for both granting concessions to log within the community’s traditional lands and for failing to recognize Awas Tingni property rights in those lands. In its historic decision, the Inter-American Court found that the right to property, as affirmed in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, protects the traditional land tenure of indigenous peoples.

This was the first case in which an international tribunal with legally binding authority found a government in violation of the collective land rights of an indigenous group, setting an important precedent in
international law.

The Special Rapporteur was present at the titling ceremony on Sunday, along with several government dignitaries and indigenous leaders who traveled to the remote community for this momentous event. He stated there that, “The titling of Awas Tingni’s lands reflects a commitment on the part of the Nicaraguan Government to implement the judgment of the Inter-American Court. In addition, it provides a model for other governments to comply with their international legal obligations to recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional lands and resources in practice.”

The Special Rapporteur calls upon the Government of Nicaragua to continue to advance the human rights of indigenous peoples in the country and to address their ongoing concerns in accordance with international standards.
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<http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/40C37D791645CF52C1257 522003F23A1?opendocument> Spanish

UNITED NATIONS

Press Release
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Experto de la ONU felicita a Nicaragua por la titulación de un territorio de una comunidad indígena
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17 de diciembre de 2008

GINEBRA–El 14 de diciembre de 2008, el Gobierno de Nicaragua entregó a la comunidad Awas Tingni el título de su territorio ancestral, que cubre unas 74,000 hectáreas de selva tropical en la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua. “Este paso positivo por parte del Gobierno de Nicaragua representa un avance importante para los derechos de los pueblos indígenas en el mundo”, declaró el Relator Especial sobre la situación de los derechos humanos y libertades fundamentales de los indígenas, Profesor James Anaya.

El Relator Especial felicitó al Gobierno de Nicaragua por finalizar el proceso de demarcación y titulación de las tierras de los Awas Tingni, una comunidad Mayangna, que es una de las numerosas comunidades indígenas que habitan en la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua. La titulación del territorio ancestral de los Awas Tingni es la culminación de una lucha de décadas por parte de la comunidad para lograr reconocimiento y protección de sus tierras ancestrales.

El 31 de agosto de 2001, la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos emitió su sentencia en el caso Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua, concluyendo que Nicaragua había violado los derechos de la comunidad Awas Tingni por otorgar una serie de concesiones madereras dentro de las tierras tradicionales de la comunidad, y por no haber reconocido sus derechos de propiedad. En su decisión histórica, la Corte Interamericana declaró que el derecho a la propiedad, garantizado en la Convención Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, protege la tenencia de tierras tradicionales de los pueblos indígenas.

El caso Awas Tingni fue el primero en el que un tribunal con autoridad legalmente vinculante declaró que un gobierno había violado los derechos colectivos a la tierra de un pueblo indígena, sentando un precedente importante en el derecho internacional.

El Relator Especial estuvo presente en la ceremonia de entrega del título el domingo, junto con varios representantes del Gobierno y líderes indígenas, viajando a esta remota comunidad. En sus comentarios durante la ceremonia, observó que “la titulación del territorio de los Awas Tingni refleja el compromiso por parte del Gobierno de Nicaragua con la ejecución de la sentencia de la Corte Interamericana. Además, crea un ejemplo para otros países sobre como cumplir con sus obligaciones bajo el derecho internacional de reconocer y proteger en la práctica los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a sus tierras y recursos naturales tradicionales”.

El Relator Especial insta al Gobierno de Nicaragua que continúe a avanzar en los derechos humanos de los pueblos indígenas en el país, incluyendo la comunidad Awas Tingni, y a tratar sus otras preocupaciones de acuerdo con el derecho internacional.

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