Canadian Court Denies UDAPT Request for Chevron Canada to Respond for Environmental Crime in Ecuador. Affected Ecuadorians Appeal before the Supreme Court
Quito, May 23, 2018. – Through a ruling issued today, the Court of Ontario dismissed the evidence presented by the affected Ecuadorians to link the capitals of Chevron Canada and Chevron Corporation. The decision of this Court will be appealed before the Supreme Court.
This decision of the Toronto Court is given more than a month after the last hearing, which was attended by a delegation from the UDAPT (Union of the people Affected by Oil Operations of Texaco) formed by a member of the UDAPT committee and indigenous Kichwa leader Guillermo Grefa, and the President of the CONAIE (Confederation of the indigenous nationalities of Ecuador), Jaime Vargas, accompanied by the Ecuadorian lawyer Julio Prieto.
During the hearing, the affected represented by the Canadian lawyer Alan Lenczner, presented evidence that Chevron Canada belongs to Chevron Corp and depends economically on it. They delivered the equity statements that the parent company presents annually in the United States, in which assumes ownership over all of its subsidiaries, including Chevron Canada. Were also presented documents that prove that the acquisitions made by Chevron Canada are under the approval of the parent company and others that determine Chevron Canada intermediates the company’s investments in other countries, such as Nigeria and Indonesia. In addition, they revealed the existence of seven levels of subsidiaries, under which the multinational seeks to hide their capital and evade any judicial responsibility.
These evidences were not validated by the Canadian judges even though the Chevron Corporation’s own lawyer recognized the right of those affected to seize the subsidiary, regardless of the number of subsidiaries that intermediate between the two. The representative of the company accepted that the number of subsidiaries does not extinguish the right of the Ecuadorian plaintiffs. He also admitted that this situation does not correspond to the economic reality, but to the legal reality. That is precisely the problem, said Pablo Fajardo: “If the economic reality does not correspond to the legal reality, this means that laws or jurisprudence are obsolete and need to be adapted to the new realities of the operation of transnational corporations. The interests of companies should not be protected above human rights. »
This pronouncement extends the judicial battle which for 24 years have been carried out by the Amazonian plaintiffs, who managed that the Ecuadorian Courts recognized the responsibility of the multinational and sentenced it to pay more than 9,500 million dollars. The money will be administered by a trust and will be invested in the repair of damages caused by the negligent operation of Texaco (Chevron), amounting to more than 480,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest. The contamination have generated serious impacts on health, economy, production and culture of more than 30 thousand peasants and indigenous of nationalities ( Siona, Siekopai, A’I Cofan, Kichwa, Shuar and Waorani)
For Willian Lucitante, Coordinator of the UDAPT (Union of the people Affected by Texaco), this decision of the Justice of Toronto is another example of the difficulties faced by the poor and vulnerable communities of the world to access justice. There is evidence of a structure of impunity that allow shelters transnationals and economic power to prevail over human rights. This ruling give to UDAPT more arguments to continue fighting at the global level for the adoption of a binding treaty, in the United Nations, to subject transnational corporations to the fulfillment of human rights.
The lawyer Pablo Fajardo recalled that during the process in Canada, the courts of that country have been favorable to the possibility that the plaintiffs face a fair trial. Among the most important resolutions is the refusal of the Court of Appeals to the oil company’s request consisting in a bond of one million dollars from the Ecuadorians to continue with the trial. La Corte se pronunció indicando que es una demanda colectiva, en la que los litigantes no persiguen un interés económico privado, sino que es una litigación de interés público, que los daños existentes en la zona han minado las posibilidades de subsistencia de la población, por lo que el pedido de Chevron podría considerarse como un intento de obstruir las posibilidades de los afectados de acceder a la justicia.
The Court ruled that it is a collective litigation, in which the plaintiffs do not pursue a private economic interest, but a litigation of public interest, that the damages in the area have undermined the population’s livelihood possibilities. The Chevron’s request could be considered as an attempt to obstruct the possibilities of those affected to access to justice. He also recalled that in the Ecuadorian judgment there are no compensations to individuals but to the thousands of people represented by the plaintiffs in this litigation. It is a global repair that consists of the cleaning of groundwater, the remediation of soils, the recovery of flora and fauna, health plans and drinking water, as well as the restoration of indigenous cultures.