Today, Amazon Watch – longtime advocates for the Ecuadorian indigenous and farmer communities affected by Chevron's toxic legacy – released a letter from a dozen prominent human rights and environmental organizations condemning Chevron's abusive tactics related to the Lago Agrio litigation.
In addition to decrying the abusive nature of Chevron's scorched earth legal, political, and media strategy in the case, it warns of the significant negative implications of Chevron's efforts to evade accountability for its devastation in the Amazon:
In a press release announcement Amazon Watch excerpts the sign-on letter:
"Chevron's actions set a dangerous precedent and represent a growing and serious threat to the ability of civil society to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds around the world."
Besides Amazon Watch, signatories to the letter include such high-profile organizations as frontline human rights and environmental legal advocates EarthRights International, global climate change activist powerhouse 350.org, and eminent environmental movement stalwart Sierra Club.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune had this to say today:
"The people of Ecuador have a right to defend their families from oil industry pollution. Journalists have a right to expose the reckless practices that are destroying Amazon communities and ecosystems. Chevron's bullying tactics undermine those rights, and the Sierra Club supports the individuals and organizations that are standing up to Chevron's irresponsible corporate behavior."
Under headers highlighting some of the tactics Chevron has employed in an effort to evade accountability for its crimes in Ecuador, the letter outlines the way Chevron 'Attacks Free Speech,' 'Vilifies Critics,' and 'Undermines the System of Justice and Judicial Sovereignty.'Under this last header, the letter explains:
In a threat to the nature of national sovereignty and an independent judiciary, Chevron took the unprecedented step of attempting to use an obscure arbitration procedure under the mantle of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty to nullify the ruling of a sovereign domestic court even though Ecuador was Chevron's chosen forum. This despite the fact that Ecuador was not even party to the 19-year court case as the plaintiffs were the 30,000 affected indigenous and campesino people, and the case itself began before the Investment Treaty was even signed. The affected peoples have no right to participate in the arbitration, which will be decided by three private lawyers, who purport to have the authority to overrule the Ecuadorian courts – raising threats to the sovereignty of justice systems around the world, which could be rendered powerless in the face of truly unlimited corporate power.
The dozen current signatories to the letter are currently circulating the letter, soliciting additional signatories, and conducting outreach to educate allies and colleagues working on human rights, environmental sustainability, and corporate accountability, among other key issues for which Chevron's tactics have profound implications.
Download the letter in PDF format here and click here to read Amazon Watch's press release announcing the letter.