The Kichwa community of Sarayaku, Ecuador sued the Ecuadorian government at the Inter-American Court on Human Rights last week for not following orders from the same court four years ago. In 2012 in response to the government approving an oil extraction project without the community’s consent and leaving pentolite (an explosive) behind as a result, the court ordered the government to clean up the pentolite and make sure that something similar does not happen again. However, since then, the government not only has not removed the pentolite, they have also approved other oil projects without consulting the Kichwa community.
Here’s the 2012 court order in more detail and exactly what the Ecuadorian government has been doing in its violation:
Four years after the historic verdict in their favor from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Kichwa community of Sarayaku was back in San Jose, Costa Rica today facing off with the Ecuadorian government, which has failed to comply with the most critical components of the Court’s landmark 2012 ruling.
With that judgement, the Court found that Ecuador had violated Sarayaku’s rights in pursuing an oil extraction project without consulting with the community. The project led to rights abuses by company workers and the military, violated the community’s right to its territory, and put the physical and spiritual existence of the community at risk by leaving over 3,000 pounds of pentolite – a dangerous high explosive used during the seismic testing phase in the search for oil – strewn throughout their sacred lands.
The judgment ordered the Ecuadorian government to provide Sarayaku with 1) Restitution – removal of the pentolite; 2) Guarantees of non repetition – if the government were to conduct exploration or extraction of natural resources, investment plans, or development of any other kind that affects Sarayaku territory or essential aspects of Sarayaku’s cosmovision, life, or cultural identity, it must first adequately consult with the community, as it also must do with any other indigenous community in similar circumstances; and 3) Satisfaction – The government must publicly recognize its responsibility for the violations of which it was found guilty and pay damages.