Blog: Ecuador

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October 27, 2015

Defenders of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Environment: Comment on Recent Hearing At IACHR

Posted by Kiri Toki, LLM '16

This piece was originally posted on the blog for EarthRights International

 

Last week, a panel of Ecuadorian indigenous and mestiza women spoke at a Thematic Hearing in front of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) about their struggles protecting the Amazon Rainforest. They spoke about the longstanding and continuing extractive projects that have operated in the area, and the subsequent (and escalating) abuse they have faced at the hands of the Ecuadorian Government.

When speaking about the extractive projects, one woman, Gloria Ushigua, a Sapara woman, highlighted that there had been no consultation with the local people. “There has been no consultation” she said in an answer to one of the IACHR’s questions. “We don’t know how [the Ecuadorian land acquisition process] works.”

The Ecuadorian delegation (from left to right) Ivonne Ramos, Esperanza Martinez, Paty Gualinga, Gloria Ushigua, Alicia Huetica and Margoth Escobar with IACHR Chair Rose-Marie Belle Antoine

The Ecuadorian delegation (from left to right) Ivonne Ramos, Esperanza Martinez, Paty Gualinga, Gloria Ushigua, Alicia Huetica and Margoth Escobar with IACHR Chair Rose-Marie Belle Antoine

 

Other women also bravely recounted the criminalization and abuse that they have suffered in the wake of the recent Quito protests. Esperanza Martinez, who works with Acción Ecológica, explained that her emails had been hacked and that she has been stigmatized. Similarly, Margoth Escobar, a defender of the Amazon for over three decades, detailed how she had been arbitrarily detained, imprisoned, and beaten while in police custody. She in fact left Ecuador illegally to attend the hearing. She felt compelled to tell the IACHR what has been taking place, even though she believed that prison awaited her upon her return to Ecuador.

Sadly, the women’s struggle to protect their environment from extractive mining practices is a familiar story for many indigenous peoples. For instance, my own people, the Maori people of Aotearoa/New Zealand, have recently protested against government proposals to allow deep-sea oil drilling to take place off New Zealand’s coasts. Like many indigenous peoples, Maori view deep-sea oil drilling to be too intrusive, and the associated environmental risks to be too great.

Gloria Ushigua tells her story at an Amazon Watch/CIEL lunch event. Next to her are Waorani leaders from Brazil- one of the most dangerous places for defenders.

Gloria Ushigua tells her story at an Amazon Watch/CIEL lunch event. Next to her are Waorani leaders from Brazil- one of the most dangerous places for defenders.

 

As it happens, the IACHR is currently preparing a report on extractive industries and indigenous peoples. During the hearing, the IACHR noted that it is seeing a pattern throughout the Americas of threats against indigenous defenders and was particularly interested in the events in Ecuador for this reason. After thanking the women for their time, the IACHR explained that it would continue to monitor the situation in Ecuador.

While we can only speculate on what that report will entail, the IACHR’s report will be of interest to indigenous peoples worldwide. We await the release of the IACHR’s report and acknowledge those who, like these women, come forward and speak to the injustices that they continue face.

(From left to right) Esperanza Martinez, Margoth Escobar, Alicia Huetica, Gloria Ushigua speak in front of the IACHR.

From left to right: Esperanza Martinez, Margoth Escobar, Alicia Huetica, Gloria Ushigua speak in front of the IACHR.

 

This blog post was written by Kiri Toki, who is a young, indigenous woman, of Maori descent (Ngati Wai/Ngapuhi) from Aotearoa/New Zealand. She is currently an LLM student at Harvard Law School, where she is focusing on indigenous rights and international law

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September 21, 2015

Tomorrow, Sept. 22: Negotiating the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities

Luis Gallegos Poster (2)Tuesday, September 22, 2015

“Negotiating the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: An Insider’s Perspective”

A Talk by Ambassador Luis Gallegos

12:00- 1:00 p.m.
WCC 3008
Harvard Law School

Please join us for a brown bag discussion with Ambassador Luis Gallegos, who chaired the first half of the negotiations on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and is a current board member for the Special Olympics. He has previously served as Ecuador’s Ambassador to the United States, as Ecuador’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and as a Member of the UN Committee Against Torture.

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April 8, 2014

Today, April 9: “The Future of Corporate Impact Litigation After Chevron”

Event Notice


“The Future of Corporate Impact Litigation After Chevron”

A Discussion with Steven Donziger

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
WCC 3018

 

Please join us for a discussion with Steven Donziger, JD ’91, a New York based lawyer who has advised indigenous and farmer communities for two decades in their struggle to hold Chevron accountable for oil contamination in the Amazon. In 2013, Ecuador’s Supreme Court affirmed a trial court ruling ordering Chevron to pay $9.5 billion in damages. Chevron fought back, recently securing a controversial ruling from a U.S. federal judge in a non-jury trial that Ecuador’s entire judicial system is unworthy of respect and that the case was marred by fraud. That case is currently under appeal to the Second Circuit while enforcement actions based on the Ecuador judgment continue against Chevron in Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. The case raises profound questions that touch on international law, comity, human rights, indigenous rights, freedom of expression, professional ethics, and the limits of litigating against corporate wrongdoers.

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