15 Feb 2011

Rapa Nui lawyer says Chile can't ignore extraordinary human rights ruling

3:43 pm on 15 February 2011

A lawyer representing Rapa Nui people says it will be difficult for Chile to ignore the protection ruling of an international human rights body.

Chile is due to respond this week to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights which has granted the indigenous Easter Islanders what are known as precautionary measures to ensure their safety.

This follows alleged human rights abuses by Chilean authorities in dealing with Rapa Nui's ancestral land claims.

Leonardo Crippa says with the United States House of Representatives following the issue and an upcoming American presidential trip to Chile, the Latin American state will be under pressure to act on issues like demilitarising its isolated Pacific territory.

"It is extraordinary. The Commission doesn't grant these kind of protection measures unless there is an imminent situation in which human rights violations are going to occur."

Leonardo Crippa says similar measures by the Commission have helped protect indigenous Guatemalans threatened by mining and procured state help for HIV victims.