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Canadian Supreme Court fails to peirce the corporate veil of Chevron, denies justice to Ecuadorian communities

Written By mediavigil on Thursday, April 04, 2019 | 1:26 PM

In a setback to the cause of justice, Supreme Court of Canada's ruling regarding the case of Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazon has refused to admit the appeals filed by the communities affected by Chevron -formerly Texaco- in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This ruling reinforces corporate impunity by protecting Chevron's Canadian assets. The struggle for access to justice in other foreign jurisdictions remains unfinished.Canada's Supreme Court declined to review a decision that a group of Ecuadorians cannot  go after a Canadian Chevron subsidiary's assets for $9.5 billion pollution judgment.

It means that $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron Corporation given by a local court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador in 2011 cannot be enforced against Chevron Canada Limited.  In effect, Canadian Supreme Court has upheld the on May 23, 2018 order of the Ontario Court of Appeal that dismissed all claims against Chevron Canada Limited, holding that it is a separate entity from the parent Chevron Corporation with no obligation to the Ecuadorian justice system. Seven judges of the Supreme Court of Canada decided to accept jurisdiction to carry out an enforcement or “exequatur process” in Canada, upholding the legitimacy of the Ecuador Supreme Court´s decision on Chevron in 2015. This decision had brought strong hopes to the indigenous communities gathered in the Union of People Affected by Chevron – Texaco in Ecuador (UDAPT) that justice could be achieved.

Similar arguments has been advanced by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), currently a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals Company in the Bhopal disaster case. The fact remains Court's accept such arguments in circumstances wherein it does not have the judicial will to pierce through the corporate veil. Subsidiaries of parent companies like Chevron Canada is not an autonomous and independent entity from the parent company Chevron

It is worth remembering that Chevron´s operations in the Amazon deeply and negatively affected the lives of indigenous people, the ecosystem, water and common goods. From 1964 to 1992, the company dumped nearly 65,000 barrels of oil and more than 16 billion gallons of waste water into rivers and lands in the rainforest, affecting the health and livelihoods of over 30,000 indigenous people and peasants from various communities. The atrocious consequences of its activities in Ecuador resulted in the case being known as the “Amazon Chernobyl”. 

In the face of a disaster of this magnitude, UDAPT has been fighting for over 25 years and currently its goal is to achieve the enforcement of the decision of the Ecuadorian Supreme Court, so that the environmental, social and cultural damage caused by the oil company is redressed.

A global network of over 200 organizations, movements, trade unions and communities affected by transnational corporations worldwide, Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples´ Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity has expressed its disappointment with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.  

The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada reveals the character of the legal architecture that protects the transnational corporations. Cases like those of UCC and Chevron case create a logical compulsion for the States to endorse the negotiations for an international binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights which is consistent with the call for international solidarity with communities affected by Chevron and UCC.
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