Ecuador’s Indigenous Movement requests postponement on Environmental Consultations Decree

Quito, 13 sep (EFE).- The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) asked the Constitutional Court on Wednesday to postpone the hearing of Decree 754, promoted by the government to speed up environmental consultations in Indigenous territories where there are plans for mining and oil extraction projects.

Decree 754 is currently suspended as a precautionary measure by the Constitutional Court after it accepted a lawsuit filed by Conaie, which argues that any modification related to human and fundamental rights, such as prior consultation with Indigenous peoples, must be made through a consensual law.

The president of Conaie, Leonidas Iza, presented on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Constitutional Court the request to postpone the hearing scheduled for September 18 and to hold it in person in some of the areas affected.

Iza cited the precedent of the Sinangoe case, in which the judges “went to the territory and saw the real problems” of the A’i Cofán Indigenous people regarding a series of mining concessions, that they denounced, had been granted without free and informed prior consultation.

“In the same way, we ask that they come to a territory where there are conflicts over this issue,” said Iza.

The indigenous leader suggested that the hearing could be held in the Andean provinces of Cotopaxi, Bolivar or Azuay, where some of the large-scale mining projects to which Decree 754 would apply are located.

In Cotopaxi and Bolivar, there have been recent protests, incidents and clashes between anti-mining groups and the police and military were deployed in the area to hold consultations under the provisions of the controversial decree for the La Plata and Curipamba mining projects.

For Iza, “the national government intends to confuse other facts and legal issues” and allegedly try to accuse them of other crimes, when “it is a fight for the defense of territory, water and life,” he said.

Environmental consultation is the process of disseminating and informing the population of the communities within the area of influence of the same project about the details of natural resource extraction projects or activities that have an impact on the environment. EFE


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