8 August 2016 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Amazon Watch is extremely disappointed by the decision of the 2nd Circuit Appeals court to uphold Chevron's RICO SLAPP suit filed in retaliation for the unprecedented victory of contaminated Ecuadorian communities over Chevron in Ecuador. Since the $9.5 billion verdict handed down against Chevron in 2011 – and upheld by Ecuador's highest courts – Chevron has reneged on its responsibility and sought every opportunity to escape justice. This decision demonstrates how weak the U.S. legal system actually is when it comes to standing up to big oil and corporate power.
We are shocked that the Appeals Court is completely unconcerned that the factual findings of the lower court rely on the hearsay testimony of a corrupted witness who admits receiving payment in exchange for his testimony. It is a complete miscarriage of justice. By upholding Judge Kaplan's severely flawed and biased decision, the justices of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals impugnes the entire Ecuadorian judiciary based on the often contradictory testimony of a single compromised witness.
Despite Chevron's attacks, Amazon Watch will not cease in our efforts to hold Chevron to account on behalf of the affected communities and all others seeking justice in the face of environmental and human rights crimes at the hands of large corporations.
It is well established that Chevron (then operating as Texaco) deliberately dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the Amazon rainforest, resulting in an environmental disaster and a severe health crisis for tens of thousands of people. Although it admits this crime, Chevron has refused for decades to take responsibility for its actions.
Chevron's retaliatory lawsuit and its attack on its victims has been condemned by some of the largest environmental and social justice organizations in the United States, including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Amnesty International and many other respected human rights and environmental organizations submitted a brief calling for the decision to be overturned because it tramples the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens who dare to speak out against human rights abuses, environmental destruction, and corporate misdeeds.
Fortunately for the affected Ecuadorians and all those who seek justice in this case, the decision will ultimately prove useless in Chevron's efforts to escape payment for a cleanup. As the ruling itself correctly states, the RICO decision has no effect outside of the United States, and therefore it will not hinder a trial set to begin in Canada in just over a month to seize Chevron's assets to cover its $9.5 billion debt to the affected communities in Ecuador.
It is extremely disturbing that rather than assist in the pursuit of justice for environmental and human rights crimes, the U.S. judicial system has instead played a role in aiding a U.S. company found liable for one of the worst environmental disasters in history based on overwhelming evidence. The Ecuadorians – and those of us who support their fight for justice – will ultimately succeed despite this indefensible decision.