Private companies and the police: recent events in Espinar

26 September 2015

The issue of contracts between private companies and the police for security services has been a cause of grave concern now for several years, particularly with regard to the management of protest in the mining sector. The issue has arisen again in Espinar in the highlands of Cuzco, around the new mine of Antapaccay being brought into production by Glencore Antapaccay, formerly Xstrata Tintaya S.A..

The Peruvian NGO Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras (DHSF), based in Cuzco, has published a five-page detailed report highlighting police handling of what it claims was a peaceful protest at the mine on 11 September. This was triggered by what the communities see as the company's failure to resolve problems of water scarcity and contamination as the mine gets under way.

Some 30 people gathered, bringing their dead animals, deaths which they claim that were caused by the drying up of water sources as a result of the mine. They were met with force, according to DHSF. The local public prosecutor (fiscal) detained four people, and DHSF’s account details the procedures that were not followed. In particular it highlights the misuse of preventative detention and the failure to provide immediate medical attention and legal aid of the prisoners' choosing.

Once again, DHSF argues, the cases point up the danger of allowing companies to maintain contracts with the security forces in a non-transparent way (civil society organisations have repeatedly asked for such contracts to be published) and how people's constitutional right to peaceful protest is being violated

There is an on-going case in the English courts examining the relationship between Xstrata plc, its wholly-owned subsidiary and the police, and whether the UK-registered company shared any responsibility for violent human rights abuses carried out by the police on its property in 2012.

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  • PSG Aims

    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

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    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

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