Nicaragua: Praise for giving Awas Tingni community title to its traditional lands

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 theThis affirmative step by the Government of Nicaragua
represents an important advancement in the rights of indigenous
peoples worldwide 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

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