QUITO, Nov 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Excluding indigenous Ecuadoreans from the country’s development plans has made their rights “invisible”, a U.N. expert said, citing a government push to approve oil and mining projects to extract resources from their territories.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, made the comments on Thursday at the end of an 11-day fact-finding mission in the country.
It was the first visit to Ecuador by the U.N. indigenous rights watchdog since 2009, and came on the 10th anniversary of the constitution – which gives indigenous people collective rights, and was one of the first to give legal rights to nature.
But since then there have been “serious violations of the constitutional provisions”, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, with the government awarding concessions for energy projects on indigenous land without consulting local people.
“So-called development projects have violated and continue to violate their fundamental rights,” Tauli-Corpuz said. At a press conference in Quito, she said she was “seriously concerned” about threats to indigenous communities posed by the possibility of new oil-drilling in Yasuni national park and new oil concessions in Sucumbios province, both of which are in the Amazon.