UN –– Road must be closed to protect isolated Jarawa tribe

March 12, 2007

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In a devastating report India has been urged by the UN to protect the Jarawa tribe of the Andaman Islands by closing the highway running through their land. For four years the Indian government has defied a ruling of its own Supreme Court that the road should be closed.

The report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says:

‘[India] should protect tribes such as the Jarawa against encroachments on their lands and resources by settlers, poachers, private companies or other third parties and implement the 2002 order of the Indian Supreme Court to close the sections of the Andaman Trunk Road that run through the Jarawa reserve.’

More than four years after the deadline set by the Supreme Court, the Andaman Islands authorities have made no moves to close the road, and have even petitioned the court to revoke its order.

The UN report also expresses concern that projects like the Andaman Trunk Road, and the construction of large dams in other parts of India, are carried out on tribal peoples’ land without their consent. It recommends that India sign up to the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, the key international law on tribal people.

Survival had submitted a report to the UN committee, warning that the Jarawa tribe could be ‘wiped out’ unless the Indian government acts to protect them.

Download the UN report

Download Survival’s report