Implications of Easter Island Protests – Breach of Rapa Nui Rights by Chile in the Context of National, American and Universal Legal Systems

In: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
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  • 1 University of Bergen, Bergen, Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Law, Norway

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The aim of the article is to present, as well as to analyse legally, the situation of the indigenous population of Rapa Nui in the territory of Chile. Rapa Nui, officially called Easter Island, is an island in the Pacific Ocean basin. It was illegally annexed by Chile in 1888; since then, violations of the rights of native peoples have been observed. The legal-political situation of Rapa Nui (also the name for the inhabitants of Easter Island) is challenging due to the Chilean government’s actions towards them. Instances of human rights breaches can be seen in, inter alia, the failure to respect the right to self-determination as well as the right to environmental protection. The article will also consider breaches of very basic human rights by the Chilean government such as the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. The article firstly examines the actual situation in which the indigenous people of Rapa Nui find themselves. Secondly, such analysis will consider the legal situation, in light of both regional (i.e. American) and universal norms. These legal frameworks provide an explicit legal basis that can be used to improve the problematic position of Rapa Nui. The American regional norms, however, are still at the stage of creation and execution. There are a series of judgments from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which de jure can help the people of Rapa Nui in regaining their freedoms, primarily their right to protest.

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