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Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples

Please, read the general remarks about the special procedures first.

Rights and Intended Situations

The expert is, inter alia, asked to gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from all relevant sources, including governments, indigenous people themselves and their communities and organizations, on violations of their human rights and fundamental freedoms; to formulate recommendations and proposals on appropriate measures and activities to prevent and remedy violations of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.

Implementation of the Procedure

Filing a Complaint

The Special Rapporteur receives a large number of communications providing him with information about allegations of violations of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. The main sources of these communications are NGOs, indigenous organizations, intergovernmental organizations and United Nations procedures concerned with the protection of human rights.

The Special Rapporteur analyses such information and decides whether or not to take action. Given the difficulty in assessing the degree of credibility of any particular allegation, great care must be exercised in the evaluation of every communication and sources are therefore urged to include all relevant documentation and evidence in support of the allegation. In the case of violations of the rights of individuals, full information should include:

  • full name of the victim,
  • clear name of the community at risk when applicable,
  • age, place of residence or origin, profession, marital status etc and
  • the precise circumstances of the incident such as date, place, description of how the event occurred etc.

When the victims of alleged violations are communities or members of distinct collectivities (tribal communities, families etc), full information should include

  • social and cultural context,
  • references to public policies and specific circumstances under which the alleged violation occurred, as well as
  • the characteristics of the group and
  • when, if applicable, the nature of the human rights gap and the demands of the people concerned.

The complaint must at least contain the following information:

  • Identity of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the inquiry;
  • Full name, age, sex and place of residence or origin of the supposed victim;
  • Indication of as many details as possible (name, age, sex and place of residence or origin) if it refers to a group or community;
  • Date and place of the incident (approximately, if the exact date is unknown)
  • Detailed description of the circumstances of the incident under which the presumed violation took place;
  • Identity of the suspect(s) (name if known, title/position, presumed motivation);
  • As the case may be, measures taken at the national level (for example, if the police had been informed, in case that other national authorities are involved, as well as a possible position of the government);
  • As the case may be, measures taken at the international level (for example, if other mechanisms have been called up)

Information and complaints can be submitted (specifying the pertinent special procedure) to:

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People                   
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights                                 
United Nations Office at Geneva
Indigenous and Minorities Team
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 60 10 
Email: indigenous(at)

For more information visit:

Consequences of the Complaint

The main type of communications sent by the Special Rapporteur are "urgent appeals" in cases of imminent danger of violations of the human rights of individuals, or even entire indigenous communities. He also transmits "letters of allegation" to governments on cases of less urgent character. Over the past two years, the expert has strengthened the coordination with other human rights special mechanisms and participated in joint communications with them. Follow-up of the cases in which his intervention has been required is a matter of particular concern to the Special Rapporteur and therefore, a third type of communication is also under consideration in the form of follow-up letters on earlier communications.

Please note that as a general rule, both urgent appeals and letters of allegation remain confidential until published in the annual report of the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council. A summary of such communications and the replies received from the concerned government concerned are formally included in the first addendum to the Special Rapporteur's annual report to the Council.

Last change: 30.11.08 - 12:17