Emblematic case: Awajun community versus MEM

17 June 2018

On 12 June, the Lima Court of Appeal heard the emblematic case of the Awajun community of Supayaku. Why emblematic? This is the first case in which a junior court ruled in favour of an indigenous community, upholding their claim that they were not properly consulted over a mining project. The Ministry of Energy and Mines lodged the appeal.

The indigenous people of Supayaku hold that they had not been adequately consulted about the mining prospection carried out by the Aguila Dorada company in the headwaters of the Chirinos valley in northern Peru. As a consequence of the company’s prospection activities, the fish in the river on which they depended largely for survival had died, prejudicing their diet and health.

Lawyers acting for the MEM claim that the prospection activities were in the territory of a neighbouring community, that the community’s demand for an amparo (legal remedy for the protection of rights) was not the appropriate judicial recourse, and that the case should have been heard in Cajamarca (not Lima).

Acting for the community, David Velazco, the director of Fedepaz, argued that the community had suffered damages even though the prospection took place in the neighbouring community, that there were no other available legal remedies open to the community, and that the case was judged in Lima since that was where the MEM announced its decision authorising prospection to go ahead without proper consultation.

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