Challenges to individual religious freedom in the Indigenous communities of Latin America

The case of the Nasa (Colombia)


  • Dennis P. Petri



Cultural rights, Indigenous communities, individual religious freedom, Colombia, Latin America, Nasa


Whilst Indigenous autonomy is generally regarded as something positive, the existence of human rights abuses inside Indigenous communities has received relatively little attention in legal scholarship. Human rights abuses include severe violations of religious freedom, particularly of converts away from the traditional religion. Based on original empirical field research conducted in the Nasa Indigenous territories in the southwestern highlands of Colombia (2010–2017), I discuss the challenge of balancing the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and the individual human rights of people living in Indigenous territories, particularly religious minorities. I show this has implications for the analysis of “minority in the minority” situations beyond the context of Latin America.

Author Biography

Dennis P. Petri

Dr Dennis P. Petri is international director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom; founder and scholar-at-large at the Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America; Professor and Head of the Chair of Humanities at the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (UNESCO); and director of the Foundation Platform for Social Transformation.