New requirements in environmental damage cases

16 September 2017

The Environment Ministry (Minam) has recently published new regulations designed to clarify the procedures to be followed in cases of assessment of environmental damages. This concerns the technical reports, known as ‘Informes Fundamentados’, which now have to be produced as evidence before cases can come before the judges. Such reports are now compulsory and should provide judges and prosecutors with the detailed information they need to pass judgement.

The new norm DS 007-2017-MINAM was published on 5 September. It helps clarify what needs to go into an Informe Fundamentado. From now on, these reports are to be considered as documentary proof in judicial hearings. It also sets out those considered competent to carry out such evaluations, even in cases where those responsible for environmental damage are from the public sector.

Hitherto judges have lacked the necessary and standardised information on which to base their verdicts. In Peru it has become clear just how difficult it is to enforce the laws on environmental protection. Even the environmental authorities lack clear guidelines as to how to assess such damages, let alone the plaintiffs. As readers of the PSG Newsletter will be aware, environmental damage arising from extractive industries of one sort or another are commonplace and are the source of conflict across the country. Appeals to judicial decisions seldom satisfy those most immediately involved.

Vanessa Schaeffer, writing in the Cooperacción newsletter, considers this an advance in the regulations surrounding environmental protection, but makes the important point that it is one thing to have good procedures but another to ensure that they are always followed to the letter. “There is still a long road ahead” she says. 

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