EU supports Indigenous rights in Africa

September 14, 2003

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The European Parliament has this month adopted strong new resolutions supporting Indigenous peoples' rights in Africa. The parliament announced it 'strongly' supports the demands of the Pygmies, 'Bushmen' ('Basarwa') and others to be recognised as Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous and tribal peoples' right to communal ownership of their land is guaranteed under international law, but many African countries fail to recognise this. In Botswana, the Gana and Gwi Bushmen (locally known as 'Basarwa' )have been evicted from their land and forced into resettlement camps, while in Tanzania more than 200 Maasai families face eviction from the Ngorongoro Crater.

The parliament also resolves that its agreements must contain 'specific clauses and mechanisms to assess respect for and the protection of the fundamental rights of Indigenous peoples, who are all too often the victims of extremely serious and systematic violations'.

Meanwhile, a member of the European Parliament, Richard Howitt, has asked that 'European Union funding of the 'Wildlife Conservation and Management Programme' in Botswana should be made dependent on the proper recognition of Bushman land rights in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and on Bushmen being allowed to return freely to their land within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.