Human Rights Court In Unprecedented Visit to Sarayaku

Top judges of the Inter-American Human Rights Court took the unusual step of making an in situ visit to the Kichwa indigenous community of Sarayaku in the heart of Ecuador's central Amazon region on April 21st. The historic visit was part of the community's long-running case against the Ecuadorian government over rights abuses suffered when an Argentine oil company began conducting seismic testing in search of oil reserves with the aid of Ecuador's military. The entrance of the oil company into Sarayaku lands occurred without the consultation or consent of the community. It marks the first time the court has visited a community involved in a case before the court.

The case has become a referendum on FPIC (Free, Prior, Informed, Consent), getting to the heart of the debate over the right of a community to say "no" to state sponsored or private sector projects slated for their lands. A decision in the case is expected by years end, and will have wide sweeping implications for indigenous rights across the Americas.

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