This Monday, July 11 at 10:30 a.m. at CONAIE, Representatives of the People of Sarayaku, their lawyer and the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) will offer a press conference to comment on their participation in the Hearing of the "Caso Sarayaku vs. Ecuador" before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica, on July 6 and 7. In this event, a communication kit will be delivered for more information about the case.

“We are determined not to let our forest be destroyed. We are a town of only 1,200 people, but I know that in each one of your hearts there is a people that fights”, thus ended the statement of José Gualinga, President of the Town of Sarayaku, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, last July 7th.

The people of Sarayaku sued the Ecuadorian State for not having respected their rights when, in 1996, it gave a large part of the village's territory in concession to the Argentine oil company CGC. In addition, when, between 2002-2003, workers from the CGC company entered the territory without consultation, with the Ecuadorian military, to carry out seismic exploration. The company opened trails, introduced explosives and deforested forest areas, including trees and plants of sacred and cultural value to the community. Also, in these events Sarayaku leaders were threatened and harassed for their work in defense of the territory against the illegal entry of the company.

The victims were represented by the Association of the Kichwa People of Sarayaku (Tayjasaruta), lawyer Mario Melo of Fundación Pachamama and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

"If there are indigenous authorities and customary law over the control of a territory, that authority must be respected," said James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) during his speech at the Hearing. of the Sarayaku case. The Rapporteur stressed the importance of consulting the indigenous people from the stage in which the development projects in their territories are conceived and criticized the fact that “they arrive in the territories with the contracts already made, the contracted workers and the works designed and then it is presented to the towns. That can't be like that." Anaya pointed out that there are international legal instruments that justify the obligation of the States to carry out the consultation, and among some legal instruments that he mentioned to comply with this measure, he cited the following: the agreement of the Organization of American States and the American Convention on Rights Rights (Both instruments were ratified by Ecuador in 1977 and 1999, respectively).

Dr. Melo denounced the non-compliance by the Ecuadorian State with the protection measures ordered by the Inter-American Court 6 years ago. In addition, to date, the State has not complied with the recommendations that were issued in 2009 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for this case. Nor has it complied with the protection measures ordered by this body to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the residents of the town of Sarayaku.

In addition to stating that the State's actions seriously jeopardized the lives of the members of the Sarayaku people and their conditions of access to a dignified life, Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL and part of the Sarayaku lawyers, explained that: “ The case is transcendental, since it is emblematic of the persistent violation of the rights of indigenous peoples not only in Ecuador, but throughout the continent.”

The president of the Court, Peruvian judge Diego García Sayán, closed the questioning phase asking the state delegation what truth there is in the version that Ecuador is preparing a new tender for oil blocks for October. The representatives of the State commented that they did not have information in this regard, for which they undertook to answer this question, in an expansion of the written arguments.

The Court is expected to issue its ruling before the end of the year.

Press contacts:
Pachamama Foundation: Joke Baert
02 333 2245 – 09 135 6877

Nancy Bauptista, Secretary to the President of CONAIE
02 245 2335 – 08 8163649

Monday July 11, 2011
Conaie (Av. Los Granados E10-275 and December 6)

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