Appeal Letter to the President of Ecuador for the Protection of Right to Life of Ms. Gloria Ushigua and to Halt all Oil Exploration and Drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon

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The administration of President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has taken drastic steps to silence voices that are against further exploration of oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon and has failed to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples. There have been recent cases of attacks, threats and intimidation towards Indigenous leaders who are defending their peoples’ rights and promoting sustainable development of their lands. International and local NGO’s have been forcibly shut down and leaders and activists have even had their lives threatened.

Ms. Gloira Ushigua, an Indigenous woman leader, was issued an arrest warrant on November 29th, 2013 by the National Police of Ecuador for her fearless and consistent stance against the proposed oil drilling in her territory as well as other Indigenous peoples’ lands in the Amazon. The National Police have intimidated and interrogated her both in public and at her private home.

Ms. Gloria Ushigua serves as the president of Ashinwaka, a women’s organization of the Sapara nation. She has tirelessly taken on initiatives not only to protect the rights of her own people but has united with other indigenous peoples to promote their internationally recognized right to self-determination and to collectively stand against oil exploration in their territories.

Exploration of oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon has become increasingly aggressive and contentious under the administration of President Rafael Correa. Mulitnational and national companies including PeroAmazonas and the Secretary of Hidrocarburos have illegally entered Sapara and other territories of Indigenous peoples for both prospecting of future oil exploration and to consult with communities in a way that violates their right to free, prior and informed consultation as recognized under the Ecuadorian Constitution and free, prior and informed consent as recognized in the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Government fails to respect and honor the traditional institutions and representatives of the Sapara people. 

Continued threats and intimidation towards Miss. Ushigua is a direct violation of her personal integrity and right to life, which are fundamental rights protected in various international human rights treaties and declarations, primarily in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The threat to her security is in direct violation of both Ecuadorian law and UNDRIP.

We the following organizations and individuals would like to urge upon the Ecuadorian government to: 

1) Stop all forms of threats and intimidation, and immediately revoke the arrest warrant issued against Miss Ushigua by the Ecuadorian government;

2) Ensure full security and protection of right to life of Miss Ushigua as guaranteed under the Ecuadorian law and various international human rights treaties;

3) Call for the immediate halt of further oil exploration in Sapara and other Indigenous peoples’ lands pursued without their free, prior and informed consent.

4) The government of Ecuador and all oil companies should strictly adhere to all the provisions of the UNDRIP before pursing any oil exploration in Ecuadorian Amazon.

5) Recognize the Sapara peoples’ right to self-determination and self determined development in their territories. 

6) The Government of Ecuador should recognize and respect the traditional governance institutions and representatives of the Sapara people