Sarayaku People’s Struggle for Justice in Ecuador Presented in Interactive Digital Map

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Public Compliance Hearing at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Is Occasion for Publication of Online Tool

San José, December 2nd, 2016 – On the occasion of a public compliance hearing at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights today, members of the indigenous Kichwa community in Sarayaku exposed the Ecuadorian State’s failure to comply with the 2012 judgment issues by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, using a new interactive digital story map to demonstrate how the Ecuadorian State parceled off even more of their territory to oil companies.

“The story map clearly shows how Ecuador has sold off concessions without respecting our rights, as we have regularly denounced,” said Félix Santi, president of the Sarayaku people.

Despite the fact that the aforementioned judgement ordered the State to consult with the Sarayaku people before selling new concessions, Ecuador concluded a new round of bidding on oil blocks, resulting in the concession of three new blocks that affect almost 91.18% of Sarayaku territory.

According to the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), which represents the community before the Inter-American System of Human Rights, the new bids were carried out without the prior free and informed consultation ordered by the Inter-American Court.

“To date, Ecuador has not harmonised its legislation regarding prior consultation to ensure its compliance with international standards, which poses a threat not only to the Sarayaku but also to all the indigenous communities in Ecuador,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL.

Recently, the State sold the rights to two new blocks to a Chinese company. This affects the Sápara indigenous nation and the various indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation, again without any prior consultation process that would honor the rights of those communities.

The story map also provides evidence of the continued risk posed by the pentolite explosives that were abandoned throughout Sarayaku territory fourteen years ago and which the State has still not removed nor neutralized, despite an order to that effect in the same 2012 Court ruling.

The explosives were planted on the territory’s surface and buried below ground in order to carry out a seismic study during oil exploration between 2002-2004.

The story map demonstrates how the pentolite quarantine zone directly overlaps with the Sarayaku people’s primary activity areas, posing a serious risk to the community and preventing them from enjoying full and free use of their territory.

The story map – developed by CEJIL and Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), with support from Carlos Mazabanda, Geographer for Terra Mater; the Sarayaku community; and Amazon Watch – aims to strengthen the struggle for justice of the Sarayaku. Its publication coincides with a period of closer examination at a regional level of the impact that extractive industries and lack of free, prior and informed consultation have on indigenous communities and the environment at the national and regional level.

“ACT is proud to partner with CEJIL to help tell the story of an Amazonian indigenous community’s struggle to protect their territory against encroaching petroleum extractivism in an innovative way, using some of the latest tools in digital mapping and storytelling”, said Rudo Kemper, geographer with ACT and technical developer of the Sarayaku story map.

“The story map helps illustrate the impacts of petroleum extraction and mining on indigenous communities throughout the Amazon basin”, said Kevin Koenig of Amazon Watch, “The need to pay off its debt with China has led the Ecuadorian government to foster a new petroleum boom in the Amazon, which will have a tremendous cost on human rights, biodiversity, and the climate.”

Visit the story map: 

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