Indigenous peoples claimed a major victory when the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled in favour of the Sarayaku community of Ecuador in Sarayaku v Ecuador. The ruling is the culmination of a decade long process by the community and their legal representatives, Mario Melo and the Centre for Justice and International Law.
The case was launched when the Ecuadorian government decided to allow a foreign oil company to encroach upon the land of the Sarayaku community without permission from the community. The court found that the government had violated the community’s right to consultation, to their property and cultural identity, and to their safety as the company had placed over 1,400 kg of explosives in their territory.
Sarayaku leader José Gualinga said, “the Sarayaku are extremely satisfied with this victory, reached thanks to the efforts of our people and the help and solidarity of organizations devoted to the rights of Indigenous Peoples”. Fernanda Doz Costa of Amnesty International said “this sentence will have a far-reaching effect on countries across the region – it makes it crystal clear that states bear a responsibility to carry out special consultation processes before engaging in development projects affecting Indigenous Peoples and their rights.”
Read more about the case here.