Inter-American Court on Human Rights: Pandemic and Human Rights in the Americas
IWGIA echoes the essential call for responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic to consider Indigenous Peoples and their human rights, as Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) resolution states:
The Americas experience the highest levels of inequality in the world, characterised by profound social divides where poverty and extreme poverty are problems that cut across all countries of the region. The COVID-19 pandemic is having different, intersectional impacts on the realisation of the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of certain groups that are particularly vulnerable.
The pandemic may seriously affect the full exercise of people’s human rights because of the severe risks to life, health and personal safety that it poses. Central to the measures taken by the States to address and contain the virus should be full respect for human rights.
When issuing emergency containment measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the countries of the region should apply an intersectional approach and pay particular attention to the needs and differentiated impact of those measures on the human rights of historically excluded or high-risk groups, such as indigenous peoples and human rights defenders.
Regarding Indigenous Peoples, the IACHR offers the following recommendations to the governments of the member states:
(54). Provide information about the pandemic in their traditional language, and where possible, provide intercultural facilitators who can help them clearly understand the measures the State has taken and the effects of the pandemic.
(55). Respect unconditionally non-contact with indigenous peoples or groups who are in voluntary isolation, given the very severe impact that contagion with the virus could have on their livelihood and survival as a people.
(56). Take utmost measures to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, bearing in mind that these groups are entitled to receive health care that is culturally appropriate, and that takes into account traditional preventive care, healing practices, and traditional medicines.
(57). Refrain from introducing legislation and/or moving forward to carry out production and/or extractive projects in the territories of indigenous peoples during the period the pandemic may last, given the impossibility of conducting prior informed and free consent processes (due to the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) that social distancing measures be adopted) provided for in ILO Convention 169 and other pertinent international and national instruments.