Ecuador court rules that river in capital has rights News
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Ecuador court rules that river in capital has rights

A court in Quito, Ecuador ruled that the Machángara River, which runs through the city, possesses rights making the municipal government of Quito responsible for pollution that occurs, a local civic advocacy group reported on Friday.

The court recognized that since the river is alive, it is subject to rights under the Constitution of Ecuador. Chapter 7 of the Constitution establishes that nature possesses a right to protection, promotion, and restoration. This means that “all persons, communities, peoples or nations are able to call on public authorities to enforce the rights of nature.” The Constitutional Court of Ecuador previously recognized that rivers are protected under Chapter 7 of the Constitution in 2022.

The Machángara River case was filed as a protection order by civil society, including the Kitu Karu Indigenous people. In order for the protection order to be granted, the applicants had to prove that the river’s rights had been affected and violated. The judge ruled that Quito had breached the river’s rights by failing to treat 98% of wastewater that runs into the river from the municipality.

Under the accepted protection order, the municipality has to create and implement a recovery plan for the river. The court also stated that Quito is obliged to work with civil society to carry out recovery efforts. The municipality approved a decontamination strategy on Sunday that centres on constructing three new large wastewater treatment plants.

The municipality has filed an appeal with the Provincial Court. While the appeal is being decided, the municipality must comply with the existing ruling.