Rainforest Communities to Provide More Information About Health Impacts of Chevron Contamination
Amazon Defense Coalition
1 March 2012 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Washington, D.C. – An international human rights court has agreed to hear the claims of the Ecuadorian indigenous rainforest communities who recently won an $18 billion judgment against the American oil company Chevron for its poisoning of their ancestral lands.
In a letter sent to the lawyers for the communities, the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights asked for more information about the harms being suffered in Ecuador due to Chevron's contamination. The letter responded to a petition filed Feb. 9 by the communities.
"This is yet another step for the rainforest communities in their historic effort to hold Chevron accountable for its human rights abuses in Ecuador," said Pablo Fajardo.
The rainforest communities are asking the Commission to examine whether Chevron's purported use of an international investor arbitration procedure to pressure Ecuador's government to quash the legal case comports with international human rights law.
The arbitration – which Chevron alleges is subject to a U.S.-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty that entered into force several years after the oil giant left Ecuador – bars the rainforest communities from appearing, is rife with conflicts of interest and has been subject to withering criticism from international jurists for violating international law and having a pro-business culture. Any ruling from the arbitration panel would have no bearing on the ability of the rainforest communities to enforce their judgment, which was handed down in February 2011 and affirmed on appeal earlier this year, said Fajardo.
"Our main concern is that Chevron will try to use what is essentially a kangaroo court proceeding to try to put political pressure on Ecuador's government to deny the human rights of its own citizens to seek legal redress," said Fajardo.