Data source
Date of text
17 Mar 2010
Seat of court
Washington D. C.
Original language


Type of text
Reference number
Petition 242-05
Court name
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

This petition alleged that the United States failed to fulfil its obligations under the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (“the Declaration”) as well as the American Convention on Human Rights.

Petitioners claimed that the historic community of Mossville, founded in the 1790’s by African-Americans in Louisiana, sustained itself by fishing, farming and hunting while living according to cultural and religious traditions that prescribe the preservation of environmental conditions. The United States authorized the construction of several industrial facilities handling hazardous substances close to the community and the petitioners claimed that environmental and public health laws failed to ensure safe distances between the facilities and the residential areas. The petitioners also claimed that the information presented about the environmental pollution caused through the facilities were misleading and presented evidence to show that a large number of the Mossville residents suffered from health problems as a result of the exposure to chemicals produced by the facilities. On the basis of this, petitioners claimed that the U.S. violated articles 1 (right to life, liberty and personal security), 2 (right to equality before the law), 5 (right to protection of honor, personal reputation, and private and family life), 9 (right to inviolability of the home), 11 (right to the preservation of health and well-being), and  23 (right to property) of the Declaration.

The Commission declared the petition admissible regarding the violation of articles 2 and 5 of the Declaration, but inadmissible with regard to the alleged violation of the other articles. Article 5 was held to be admissible, because the resident’s privacy was violated due to the significant environmental pollution.

With regard to articles 1 establishing the right to life and article 11 establishing the right to the preservation of health and well-being, the Commission stated that there was no violation, because it was not evident that domestic remedies had been exhausted.