San José, Jul 7 (EFE).- The UN special rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, affirmed today, in the framework of a trial against Ecuador before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CourtIDH), that the States must consult indigenous people before carrying out development projects on their land.
Anaya, who participated in the hearing as an expert witness proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), assured that "any decision that will affect indigenous peoples must be consulted."
“The duty to consult indigenous peoples is complementary to the development of the State, they are not opposed. The development of the State is rather harmed if the rules of consultation and other rights of indigenous peoples are not respected,” he said.
Anaya clarified that his observations are of a general nature and do not necessarily or precisely refer to the case of Ecuador.
The Inter-American Court, based in Costa Rica, today completed the second and last day of hearing for a lawsuit against Ecuador filed by the Kichwa Sarayaku indigenous people, as a result of a concession of their lands to the Argentine company Compañía General de Combustibles (CGC). for oil exploration and exploitation in 1996.
The indigenous community affirms that it was not consulted or informed about this concession and that in 2002 the company entered its territory with the protection of the Army to place 1.4 tons of explosives as part of the exploration work.
The female leader of Sarayaku, Patricia Gualinga, and the spiritual leader, Sabino Gualinga, affirmed on Wednesday at the hearing that some explosives were detonated, but the vast majority remain buried in the area, which poses a risk to the indigenous people and an impediment to their work. hunting and gathering.
They also affirmed that with these detonations ancestral beings of their cosmovision have disappeared, sacred trees were destroyed and that the fight against the oil company affected the traditional and economic festivities of the town, made up of 1,200 inhabitants, and located in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where only It can be entered by air or river.
The UN rapporteur commented that there is a right to culture in international law, so "if there is any act or project that is going to affect that culture, the holder of that right must necessarily be consulted."
Anaya called on the States to consult indigenous peoples in the early stages of the development projects that will need their lands and not when the designs are finished and there are contracts signed with companies, as has been the recent practice in the world.
The Ecuadorian State today presented Army General Óscar Troya as an expert witness, who stated that the Sarayaku community has refused to meet with government authorities to discuss the precautionary measures issued years ago by the Inter-American Court.
In addition, he affirmed that the town has enjoyed free transit through the waterways since 2005, but acknowledged that there were occasions in previous years that neighboring communities blocked their path.
The general said that the Army reports indicate that the Armed Forces never entered the Sarayaku lands to accompany the CGS.
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