The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights welcomes the inclusion of reparations language in the 2014 Appropriation Act recently signed into law in the United States. This inclusion places additional pressure on the Government of Guatemala to abide by the reparations agreement with the survivors of the Río Negro community and draws necessary attention to the complicity of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in the forced eviction and massacres of the Río Negro community.
In the early 1980s, the village of Río Negro was forcibly evicted through a series of brutal massacres to make way for the Chixoy Dam. The World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank both financed and supervised the project throughout this period.
While is it also very welcomed that the Río Negro community received some level of accountability and remedies from Guatemala, after thirty years they still seek accountability for the complicity of the Banks.
It is hoped that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will consider the accountability of the Member States of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank that have human rights obligations under the inter-American system and were involved in decision-making related to the Chixoy Dam project.
In 2012, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Rights Action submitted a Petition to the Inter-American Commission seeking such accountability. To date the Petition has languished before the Commission.
According to Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the GI-ESCR, “It is hoped that the Commission isn’t bowing to undue or even imagined political pressure. As an independent and impartial human rights mechanism, it has an obligation to apply the law to the Chixoy Dam case and thereby provide access to justice, including accountability and remedies, to the survivors of the Río Negro Community.”
Thiele added that “The law, from the International Law Commission’s Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations to the Maastricht Principles on Extra-Territorial Obligations of States, is clear that Member States of inter-governmental organizations, including international financial institutions such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, retain their respective human rights obligations for decisions made and actions taken within such organizations.”
With the proper consideration of the Inter-American Commission, it is hoped that justice will finally come to the people of Río Negro, and Member States of international financial institutions are put on full notice that they will be held accountable to their human rights obligations.
More from Rights Action HERE
Read the Petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights HERE
Read more about the Chixoy Dam and the village of Rio Negro HERE