Costa Rica Needs Greater Advances in Human Rights For Indigenous Peoples

    Countries of the world, mainly in Latin America, have been witnesses for years of the struggle that indigenous peoples have maintained for the protection of their lands and biodiversity. Costa Rica has not been the exception and there have been cases of murders that today remain unpunished. Recently, a representative of the United Nations arrived in the country, who emphasized the lack of progress in the protection of Human Rights of indigenous peoples ...

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    Costa Rica and various nations of the world, mainly Latin America, have shared for so many years a struggle over the values ​​of coexistence with the land and respect for each territory. In the Central American country there have been challenges, 43 years ago, which have had a lot to do with the eight indigenous peoples that are in the country.

    Indigenous eco-fighters have empowered themselves, strengthened their autonomy and promoted the recoveries of large farms that were being exploited illegally for commercial purposes. Part of the actions for the defense of biodiversity and its lands, resulted in the murder of two indigenous leaders in cold blood: Sergio Rojas (year 2019) and Jerhy Rivera (early year 2020).

    It is worth noting that organizations and movements in Costa Rica constantly claim their support for the struggle of the indigenous peoples of Salitre, Térraba, China Quichá, Curré, Cabagra and Maleku who recover the -integrity- of their territories.

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    A special visit to Costa Rica

    A few days ago, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Francisco Calí Tzay, was in Costa Rica, who made known his concern for the safety of indigenous rights defenders in the face of their struggle for the recovery of land.

    During his visit to the Central American country, Calí Tzay met with Vice President Epsy Campbell, authorities of the Legislative Branch, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ombudsman’s Office, as well as representatives of human rights organizations and leaders of indigenous peoples.

    The rapporteur stated that despite the advances that have arisen due to the commitment of the Costa Rican State, the state of alert remains mostly on his part, after he decided to go to various communities. “There is an urgent need to adopt protection mechanisms for human rights defenders. It is important to advance in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for threats and violence against indigenous people,” he said.

    According to the information received by Francisco Calí in the communities, the attack on human rights defenders has been evident through intimidation and death threats, burning of houses and crops in the context of defending their lands.

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    On the murders of Sergio Rojas and Jhery Rivera

    The United Nations representative on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples mentioned the murders of the indigenous leaders Sergio Rojas and Jhery Rivera, adding that there is a lack of progress in the judicial process.

    In this regard, it is known that last October a Costa Rican court ordered a trial, on a date yet to be defined, against a man with the surnames Varela Rojas, of the Boruca indigenous ethnic group, suspected of murdering Jhery Rivera on February 24th of the year 2020 in the public thoroughfare of the Térraba indigenous territory. On the case of Sergio Rojas, the investigations continue.

    Definitely, the years have not passed in vain for the indigenous communities, their leaders (mainly from the south of Costa Rica), have carried out land reclamations, considering that they belong to the native peoples.

    It is no secret to anyone, that the land reclamations have their impact and their enormous dose of courage and because of the violence generated by the counterpart, it is that from the United Nations, Francisco Calí made it very clear that a legal reform is needed to guarantee the self-government of indigenous peoples, efforts for the recovery of identity, better access to justice, greater political participation of indigenous peoples and actions against discrimination.

    Maria Donaire

    TCRN Staff
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