The United Nations human rights expert on racism urged Argentina to take urgent measures to sustainably address the invisibility, marginalization and systematic exclusion of indigenous peoples in the country. The UN assessed during a week in Argentina, the situation of indigenous peoples, peoples of African descent, migrants from the region and beyond, and other groups.
In a press statement the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mutuma Ruteere, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, highlighted that during his first official visit to Argentina, he found that, “as elsewhere in the world, discriminatory practices in the country have often targeted the poor and, in effect, the most vulnerable who belong to minority groups including indigenous peoples, Afro-Argentines, and migrant communities.”
“Argentina has developed a comprehensive legal framework for the elimination of racial discrimination and the equal enjoyment of rights for all inhabitants, whether Argentine or foreign,” the expert noted.
Mr. Ruteere welcomed existing laws to protect specific vulnerable groups such as the indigenous peoples, as well as efforts made to acknowledge the existence of Afro-Argentines through a series of symbolic measures.
“I acknowledge Argentina’s progressive migration law that recognizes migration as a fundamental inalienable right, and the establishment of a number of institutions aiming at promoting human rights and anti-discrimination, such as the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism,” he said.
The human rights expert also underscored that, despite the existing comprehensive legal and institutional framework, effective implementation is lacking and significant challenges persist.
“The situation of indigenous peoples in certain areas of the country is appalling, as they live in extreme poverty, socio-cultural isolation and without access to basic services such as adequate health, descent housing or even drinkable water,” Mr. Ruteere said, calling on the Argentine authorities to develop a comprehensive multi-sector national strategy to address the rights of indigenous peoples and other groups subjected to discrimination.
“Most alarming are the reported trends of repression, in several parts of the country, against the mobilization by indigenous groups to claim their rights; and the reprisals against minority rights defenders and leaders as well as members of their families,” the independent expert said.
“I have heard reports of police profiling and violence against migrants from neighboring countries and beyond and that those acts remain unpunished and investigations of such crimes are seldom conduct,” he added.
The expert also stressed that access to justice for vulnerable groups, starting with indigenous peoples but also including migrants and Afro-descendants, remains a significant challenge.