Verdict of the Tribunal:
On March 5, 2012, the Ecuadorian government signed a large-scale mining contract with the Corriente company for exploitation and open-pit mining in the Cordillera del Condor, one of the most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems of Ecuador. The contract granted the company an area of 2,895 hectares. The Cordillera del Condor is home to over 4,000 species of vascular flowers, 6 endemic plant species, a healthy forest with a high diversity of endemic and endangered animal species such as amphibians. The source of the Wawayme and Tundayme rivers which flow into the Amazon basin is in the foothills of the Cordillera del Condor.
The Condor Mirador project is part of an overall strategy for the exploitation of mineral resources in the world. Competing multinational companies are using new complex technologies that harmful to nature in order to support rapid growth.
At the time the contract was awarded as the “Mirador” Mining Project, a protective action was raised in the Ecuadorian courts on behalf of rights of Nature and the rights to adequate water and life of humans. This claim was rejected during two separate filings without taking into account either the arguments nor the evidence presented by the petitioners.
The applicants submitted testimony and documentary evidence to the first International Tribunal session held in Quito on January 17, 2014. The evidence revealed threat of serious damage including potential extinction of species of amphibians and reptiles, serious and imminent threat to vegetation, topsoil, and rivers due to proposed discard of unused extraction toxins, and harmful impacts to the Shuar communities who inhabit and care for the Cordillera del Condor.
The evidence reveals how acid drainage affects the Tanduyme, Wawayme and Quimi rivers, aquatic ecosystems, faunal life of rivers, and other animals such as birds that feed on fish. Located at the western border of the Amazon Rainforest, the project will contribute to environmental imbalance that causes the progressive disappearance of the rainforest and its regulatory functions in the regional ecosystem and global climate.
The Condor-Mirador project has an additional dramatic dimension. Shuar leader José Isidro Tendetza was confirmed to be a witness for this case at the Lima Tribunal. Tendetza was murdered a few days before his scheduled departure to Lima. He was coming to denounce the deforestation of more than 500 hectors where endemic species nested in the zone of the mining project as well as the company’s persecution of campesinos and indigenous people that oppose selling their land. The Lima Tribunal is dedicated to his honor.
After hearing the testimony of indigenous Shuar people, experts on the subject and the songs of indigenous women, the Tribunal considers that there are serious violations to the rights of Nature and Indigenous peoples concerned. Both the State and the mining company are responsible. The State is responsible for awarding the environmental license to the mining company doing the damages. Similarly, the judicial function of Ecuador is responsible for failing to comply with its duty to guarantee the rights of Nature and Indigenous peoples.
The Tribunal has determined to request the Ecuadorian State to fully repair the Cordillera del Condor. More specifically:
1) restore the affected areas,
2) protect natural systems, water sources, flora and fauna,
3) suspend the mining project in the area,
4) compensate the affected people,
5) take steps to rebuild areas harmed by the arrival of mining activities,
6) to investigate and punish those public officials who allowed mining in spite of environmental reports
and 7) ensure that this exploitation is not repeated in any area of Ecuador.
Plaintiffs requested expanding the case to include other regions.
The Tribunal accepts the applicants’ request to extend the concern to other areas in the Condor Highland and other regions such as the Cordillera Toisán (the case known as Intag), and states that theses cases should be properly documented and submitted for information and consideration.
The Tribunal noted serious assaults against defenders of nature. Therefore, the Tribunal resolved to appoint a special committee in consultation with the judges and Ecuadorian defendents to visit the area to collect information about the attacks on defenders of nature and call for protective actions.