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Herrera Carrion et al. v. Ministry of the Environment et al. (Caso Mecheros)

Jurisdiction: Multicompetent Chamber of the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbíos of Ecuador; Family, Women, and Children Judicial Unit of Lago Agrio in the Sucumbios Province of Ecuador

Principle law(s): Organic Code on the Environment

Side A: Herrera Carrion et al. (Individual)

Side B: Ministry of the Environment et al. (Caso Mecheros) (Government)

Core objectives: Whether gas flaring resulting from State’s authorization produces the violation of human rights violations of a group of nine children.

On February 18, 2020, a group of nine girls from the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana filed a constitutional injunction (acción de protección) against the government of Ecuador. In their lawsuit, plaintiffs claimed that gas flaring is unlawful, although it can be authorised by exception, and that despite this, the State has made it a common practice, which constitutes a violation of the rights to health, water and food sovereignty, the right to a healthy environment and, the rights of Nature. They furthermore argued that pollution of gas flaring causes serious impacts on the environment and on people's health, damage to biodiversity and the cycles of nature, and contributes to climate change. Plaintiffs requested, inter alia, the annulment of all gas flaring authorizations, the immediate elimination of all flaring towers located in various areas of the Amazon where there is oil activity, and the prohibition of new oil-related flares in the region.

On May 7, 2020, the Court of first instance dismissed the constitutional action due to lack of evidence that justifies the alleged constitutional rights violation. As a response, plaintiffs filed an appeal before the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbíos. 

On July 29, 2021, the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbío accepted the appeal and declared that "the Ecuadorian State has ignored the right of the plaintiffs to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment and their right to health by promoting polluting activities, and by refusing to use environmentally clean and energy-efficient technologies." The Court indicated that the authorizations for gas flaring, as an activity associated with hydrocarbon production carried out by the Ecuadorian State, disregards various international commitments made by Ecuador in environmental matters, among the most important: Ecuador's Nationally Determined Contributions, carried out during the COP 21 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As a result, the Court ordered to update the plan for the gradual and progressive elimination of the gas flares, with those located in places close to the populated centers being the first to be removed, for which a period of 18 months is granted; with respect to the other gas flares, they should proceed to their progressive elimination until December 2030. In addition, the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources may grant authorizations for new clean technologies located away from populated centers.

Case documents

Related laws and policies
  • ECU flag This law implements Ecuador legislation
    Organic Code on the Environment

    Passed in 2017 Legislative

    The Organic Code on the Environment was published in the Official Register on 12 April 2017, and will enter into full force in one year. It aims to guarantee the right of people to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, as well as to protect the "rights of nature" recognized in ...

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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