5 Oct 2010

Lawyer says Rapa Nui children face violence

4:06 pm on 5 October 2010

A lawyer representing the indigeneous people of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, says children have been subjected to violence during evictions by Chilean forces over the past two months.

Leonardo Crippa, who's based in Washington DC, visited Rapa Nui in August to talk to elders and clan leaders about their claim over ancestral lands on the island which is governed by Chile.

About one thousand people from 36 clans have occupied public buildings and a hotel.

At least 70 people from one clan are still refusing to move and are said to be on alert after Chile sent in armed reinforcements last week.

Mr Crippa says an order for protection via the Inter American Commission of Human Rights was filed on Friday.

"Their fundamental rights are at risk such as the right to life, the right to human treatment, freedom of movement and right to personal liberty which have been threatened by the government."

Mr Crippa says there's the possibility of further legal action via international and Chilean courts but he has heard no official response to the islanders' concerns from the Chilean government.

Reports from Chile say a committee of regional and central government officials has been formed to address islanders' concerns.