The Kumay Case



In May 2020, the Shuar political and spiritual leader Alberto Mashutak Intiai died in the former Vozandes del Oriente Hospital. His family requested the burial of the body according to his ancestral traditions, which came with the death certificate of the leader Mashutak.


The Problem

The case refers to violating the right of the Shuar People of Kumay to bury their dead according to their culture, tradition, and ancestral practice; during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The burial used a protocol issued for the health emergency in Ecuador, which did not observe the directives and guidelines for handling bodies issued by international organizations; to avoid violations of the collective rights of indigenous peoples during the pandemic.



The family of Alberto Mashutak filed a protection action in order to recover the body and be able to bury it according to their traditions.



In August 2020, economic compensation came after the protection action got accepted for the Shuar people of Kumay, along with the issuance of public apologies, training for state officials on human rights issues with an emphasis on community rights and Indigenous villages, and the implementation of the worldview of indigenous peoples in protocols for the handling and disposal of corpses with history and presumption of COVID-19.

Allies in the Case

  • Pastaza Community Defense


In July 2021, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador selected the case to generate binding jurisprudence; this was for the collective and cultural rights of indigenous peoples.