The International Court of Justice (CIJ) in the Hague ruled Thursday that a prior ruling by an Ecuadorian court that fined the U.S.-based oil company Chevron US$9.5 billion in 2011 should be upheld.
The money would benefit about 30,000 Ecuadorians, most of them indigenous.
“Today’s decision represents an important step in the right direction,” said Ecuadorian Attorney General Diego Garcia Carrion.
Chevron appealed the Ecuadorean court ruling at The Hague, arguing that Ecuador had violated a bilateral investment treaty signed with the United States and that a 1995 settlement agreement reached with the Ecuadorian government made the class action lawsuit redundant.
However, the international court rule that the case included individual rights, therefore leaving null and void the agreement signed between the then government of Ecuador and oil company Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001.
Chevron is responsible for contamination in the region, he said, praising a prior judicial decision rejecting Chevron’s attempt to avoid the fine.
Chevron’s spokesperson James Craig stated that, “A federal court of the United States ruled that the Ecuadorean sentence against the U.S. company resulted from fraud, corruption and bribery. The provisional decision emitted today by the court does not change this fact.”
The lawyer of the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, Pablo Fajardo, replied that the accusation of “fraud” had no basis, adding that “it will soon be demolished” on April 20 in a New York court.
Texaco, currently part of Chevron, is accused of causing one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters while drilling for oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon between 1964 and 1990.