Human rights court favors indigenous tribe over Ecuadorian government in oil battle

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
July 31, 2012



Oil industry infrastructure in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.
Oil industry infrastructure in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has found in favor of a Kichwa community's right to consultation prior to industrial projects on their land in a ruling that could have implications for many indigenous peoples across the Americas. The court found that the government of Ecuador violated the indigenous people's rights by allowing the Argentine oil company, Compania General de Combustibles (CGC), on their land without proper consultation.

The Kichwa community of Sarayaku filed the lawsuit in 2006, after CGC, partnering with ConocoPhillips, felled forests, destroyed a cultural site, and drilled hundreds of boreholes for seismic surveying on tribal lands despite never gaining permission to do so from the community. As tensions rose, the Ecuadorian government set up military camps on indigenous land.

Finding in favor of the Sarayaku community, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the Ecuadorian government must deal with unexploded explosives left behind by the oil companies and pay reparations for the damage done. Furthermore, the court ruled that in the future the Ecuadorian government must consult indigenous people before granting concessions to industrial companies.

"This sentence will have a far-reaching effect on countries across the region—it makes it crystal clear that states bear a responsibility to carry out special consultation processes before engaging in development projects affecting Indigenous Peoples and their rights," Fernanda Doz Costa, with Amnesty International, said in a press statement.

The ruling comes as the Ecuadorian government is looking to lease new oil concessions totaling 4 million hectares on indigenous lands later this year.













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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (July 31, 2012).

Human rights court favors indigenous tribe over Ecuadorian government in oil battle.

http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0731-hance-sarayaku-interamerican-court.html