Alliance Backs Case on Transparency in Ecuador

22 July 2011

The Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information (Alianza Regional por la Libre Expresión e Información) has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica that seeks to establish standards for dissemination of information.

The case, “Pueblo Indígena Kichwa de Sarayaku vs. Ecuador,” is being conducted by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and Dr. Mario Melo.

The case concerns Sarayaku, a settlement of the Kichwa nationality located south of the Amazon area of Ecuador. As described by Alianza Regional, the government of Ecuador awarded the Sarayaku their lands in 1992, through the Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform. The conflict began when, in 1996, the Argentinean company “Compañía General de Combustibles”, received a concession from Ecuador´s government for oil exploration in the area inhabited by the community Kichwa of Sarayaku.

“The Amicus Curiae presented considers that, within the context of social conflicts such as those presented in different countries of the region, between State, indigenous communities and companies related to extractive industries, the right of access to information imposes special obligations of active transparency to States, whose violation prevents the effective participation of communities in decision-making processes of industrial projects that have the potential to affect their territory, their living quality and their very survival,” according to an Alianza statement.

The group composed on FOI groups around Latin America “believes that access to timely and accurate information, presented in a clear and simple manner, is an essential requirement in order to all citizens and in this case, indigenous communities, can freely provide their consent regarding the development of industrial projects in their territories. This can only happen after an open and transparent process of dissemination of information and deliberation, to grant the referred consent in the conditions required by international law of human rights.”

“Finally, the Alianza Regional supports these strategic litigation actions as a form of judicial intervention, since it considers them a valuable tool to submit issues to the public debate to defend freedom of expression and access to information, supporting the needs of the region and highlighting the work of the organizations that have experience in these matters.”

The brief was prepared through a collaboration of Dr. Ramiro Alvarez Ugarte from ADC-Argentina and Moises Sanchez from Pro Acceso-Chile, Ezequiel Santagada from IDEA-Paraguay and Katya Salazar from Due Process Legal Foundation-USA.

The statement in Spanish.

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