QUITO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Ecuador apologized to an indigenous community on Wednesday 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 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, “for putting life and integrity at grave risk.”
Ecuador awarded a drilling concession for the majority of Sarayaku territory to Compania General de Combustibles in 1996, despite laws which require prior consultation with tribes who reside in oil-rich areas.
The community sued the state in 2003. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Andrew Hay)