Ecuador remains non-compliant with Inter-American Court’s ruling on Kichwa indigenous people of Sarayaku

San José, December 2nd, 2016. During a press conference yesterday, leaders of the Kichwa indigenous people of Sarayaku, their lawyer, Mario Melo, and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), highlighted Ecuador’s lack of compliance with a ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against it in 2012.

Three points of the ruling will be discussed at the compliance monitoring hearing, to be held in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Friday, December 2, from 9 to 10:30 am. The hearing will be broadcasted live through the official website of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights:

At the time of the issuance of the sentence, the Inter-American Court ordered the State of Ecuador to retrieve pentolite – a highly destructive explosive - from the territory inhabited by people of Sarayaku, located in the east of the country. In view of this, Mario Melo denounced that the State has not yet removed nor neutralized the pentolite abandoned 14 years ago on the surface of and buried underneath the territory. The use of this explosive was done with the objective of carrying out a seismic study to facilitate oil exploitation. Because of their characteristics these explosives represent a danger to the Sarayaku people and prevent the use and enjoyment of a significant part of their territory.

Furthermore, the sentence requires that the people of Sarayaku be consulted with regards to any activity or project of extraction of natural resources within their territory that could affect their livelihoods. Finally, the resolution of 2012 obligates Ecuador to adopt or modify legislative, administrative and other measures, in order to ensure the implementation of the right to prior consultation of indigenous peoples.

Despite the ruling of the Inter-American Court, the Ecuadorian state called for a new, eleventh round of oil concesions which ended with the concession of three blocks that will affect 91.18% of Sarayaku’s territory. According to the representatives of the Sarayaku people, these bids were carried out without prior, free and informed consultation, required by both the judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and international law.

"The lack of conformity of Ecuador’s policies, practices and legislation with international obligations regarding indigenous peoples has consequences that include and exceed the Sarakayu, while endangering the survival of many indigenous peoples in the country," said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL, and added: "In a regional context, where the actions of States and extractive industries concerning indigenous peoples are being closely examined, Ecuador could serve as a standard if it were to adapt its legislation and practices in compliance with the judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights”.

Despite the ruling by the Inter-American Court, the President of the Sarakayu people, Felix Santi, highlighted that this non-compliance has been pointed out, repeatedly: "While the Court's judgment was a historic victory for us, the state’s non-compliance with it once again threatens our territory, our philosophy of life as well as our development as an indigenous group as a whole. We demand that the state comply with the court's orders to preserve the Kawsak Sacha (living forest) that is our life."

In the hearing, part of the effect on the territory of the Sarakayu will be demonstrated by means of an interactive map. The tool was developed jointly by CEJIL and the Amazon Conservation Team to support the efforts of the Sarayaku. It had the technical support of the geographer of Terra Matter, Carlos Mazabanda, and the assistance of Amazon Watch. The project graphically narrates the struggle of the people in defense of their territory and nature. To access the map: 

The hearing will be broadcasted live at:

For more information on the case, visit:  y