Ecuador has apologized to an indigenous community for authorizing oil drilling on ancestral land without their permission. The apology to the Sarayaku community came two years after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the OPEC nation had violated the tribe's right to be consulted on oil concessions granted for their land.
Ecuador paid 1.3 million dollars to the community, which lives in the southeastern jungle region of Pastaza, as a result of the court's decision.
We offer our public apology for the violation of indigenous property, the right to consultation, said Justice Minister Ledy Zuniga during a visit to the community, which is only reachable by air or boat, and for putting life and integrity at grave risk.
Ecuador awarded a drilling concession for the majority of Sarayaku territory to Compañia General de Combustibles in 1996, despite laws which require prior consultation with tribes who reside in oil-rich areas.
The Sarayaku community sued the Ecuadorean state in 2003.