On July 25, 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the State of Ecuador was responsible for not having previously executed free, prior, and informed consultation with the indigenous community of Sarayaku, in accordance with international standards.
The Court found the State responsible for violating rights of the community of Sarayaku, their ancestral lands and cultural identity, for not granting effective legal protection, and for having placed their life and personal integrity in danger in the presence of seismic explosives within their territory.
Among the actions the Court stipulates for the Ecuadorian government are removal of the explosives, payment for damages, and consultation that meets international standards for any development projects that impact Sarayaku territory.
Read the full text of the ruling (in Spanish) »
Response from the People of Sarayaku
Following the Court’s announcement, the Kichwa people of Sarayaku released the following statement in response:
FOR PUBLIC RELEASE FROM THE PEOPLE OF SARAYAKU
Sarayaku, Ecuador, July 25, 2012
Today, Wednesday, July 25, 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights announced its decision in the case that we filed against the State of Ecuador in 2003.
In the decision, the court declared that the Ecuadorian State is responsible under international law for the violation of the Sarayaku people’s rights to prior consultation, communal property, life, judicial protection, and other important rights.
This decision, which comes after a decade-long fight, recognizes Sarayaku’s claims of human rights abuses.
In the decision, the court ruled that the Sarayaku people must be consulted, adequately and effectively, in accordance with applicable international standard, prior to the development of natural resource exploration or extraction projects, investment plans, or any other action that potentially affects Sarayaku territory or essential aspects of its cultural identity.
In the case of Saramaka v. Surinam, the court established a standard of free, prior and informed consent when large-scale projects can adversely affect the rights and territory of indigenous peoples.
Sarayaku welcomes this victory, gained through the efforts of its people and the support of allied people and organizations committed to the rights of indigenous peoples.
Sarayaku will be closely monitoring compliance with this sentence and we will ensure that indigenous peoples’ territories will be respected in the face of damaging extractive industries such as oil drilling.
Long live Sarayaku and the indigenous people of the continent.
TAYAK APU President of Sarayaku
For more information, contact: José Gualinga, President, Sarayaku (593‐8) 329‐2734, tayjasaruta(at)sarayaku(dot)com
Read the statement from the people of Sarayaku in the original Spanish »
An Important Case for Indigenous Rights
The Pachamama Alliance and Fundación Pachamama honor the courage and perseverance of the people of Sarayaku, along with our other indigenous allies, in the face of immense pressure from entities that prioritize other interests above those of living communities.
We invite our global community to bring similar courage to working with us for a just, thriving and sustainable future.
Learn more about the history of the Sarayaku case at pachamama.org/sarayaku »
In photo, above: Humberto Cholango, President of Ecuador’s national indigenous federation CONAIE; José Gualinga, President of Sarayaku, and Sabino Gualinga, Kichwa spiritual elder (L to R) in front of the Inter-American Court, July 2011. Credit: Andrew Miller / Amazon Watch
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