Ecuadorian indigenous people were ordered to pay 350.000 Canadian dollars if they want to file an appeal before the Canadian Supreme Court. The Amazonians want to enforce an Ecuadorian judgment ordering Chevron to repair one of the greatest environmental pollution case in the world – caused by deliberate and negligent operation of oil fields.
The people affected by the pollution (UDAPT) call for changes in the laws, and thus the behaviors, that sustain the structure of corporate impunity worldwide. These financial challenges allow companies like Chevron to continue to pose a threat to the environment, people, and the survival of our planet.
The Ecuadorian National Court ordered Chevron to pay more than 9,500 million dollars to repair their lands and rivers, which were seriously poisoned because of Chevron’s deliberate deployment of obsolete methods. However, this company withdrew all its assets from Ecuador. The indigenous communities were forced to seek justice in other countries: Argentina, Brazil and, recently, Canada.
The Canadian Supreme Court previously recognized this lawsuit as a public interest litigation. But the judges of the Ontario lower court declared that “[t]here is a difference between economic reality and legal reality”, so the laws in force should not be modified. If the laws are changed, the Ecuadorian lawsuit could affect Canadian companies and force them to respect human rights above their business interests.
This trial has provoked a long debate among the members of the Canadian judiciary and legal practitioners. The appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada would be the scenario in which the judges define whether they will adopt an innovative approach with respect to corporate responsibility, justice and equity, or will continue with the application of the current laws in favor of giant multinationals’ impunity. During the past years, UDAPT has joined international efforts along with hundreds of nonprofits that stand for human rights, specifically aiming for the creation of a binding international instrument on transnational corporations and human rights. The emblematic battle of the Ecuadorians against Chevron has unveiled the structure of impunity that allows transnational corporations to get away with gross human rights’ violations and environmental damage.
Ecuadorian communities consider the Supreme Court of Canada to be reliable. The access to that Court is economically conditioned, since the Court of Ontario has ordered that the Ecuadorian victims pay 350,000 Canadian dollars by the first week in July if they wish to appeal the decision preventing financial justice. For the indigenous people and farmers who live in the Amazon and have no funds, collecting this amount represents a real challenge. If they fail, impunity shall prevail.
On the other hand, their victory could represent an important advance for indigenous populations who are victims of human rights and environmental violations throughout the world. For this reason, a global campaign has begun to collect 350,000 Canadian dollars. This is the opportunity to break the siege that prevents the people of the world from claiming their human rights to multinational corporations.
That could change the history of global corporate impunity.
The trial against Chevron is promoted by more than 30,000 peasants and people from 6 different indigenous nationalities organized in the UDAPT (Union of the People Affected by Texaco).
This press release is issued by:
M.E. Garcés, c/o UDAPT, Portete E12-79 y Abascal, Quito, Ecuador, [email protected]
M.F.M. Witschge, c/o The Crowd Versus, Jan van Nassaustraat 102, 2596 BW Den Haag, The Netherlands, [email protected]