States of emergency criticised in southern Peru

03 June 2018

On 14 May, the president of the Regional Council of Apurímac, Evelin Cavero Contreras, submitted a legal popular demand (demanda de acción popular) against the renewal of the state of emergency along the mining corridor in the provinces of Cuzco, Arequipa and Apurímac.

The latest renewal was issued on 12 April for a period of 60 days, which makes it the ninth time that the state of emergency has been renewed since it was first invoked in August 2017. States of emergency restrict the full exercise of the constitutional rights of the communities which live in the mining corridor, particularly those rights related to freedom of association and freedom of movement.

Submitted on the advice of civil society organisations Derechos Humanos sin Fronteras (DHSF, Cusco), the Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL), the Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y la Paz (Fedepaz) and Acción para la Vida y Dignidad Humana (Aporvidah), the demanda is designed to obtain from the courts a ruling that establishes that the Peruvian authorities are violating a series of constitutional rights and principles. Article 137, for instance, says that states of emergency are only to be declared in situations that are considered exceptional or extraordinary.

The complaint also requires President Martín Vizcarra and Prime Minister César Villanueva to desist from declaring states of emergency in places where there is no clear evidence of any real threat to public order.

According to IDL, the state of emergency “has become a weapon used in order to neutralise the complaints made by the communities affected by the mining activities of Las Bambas mining project”. In a report issued in early May, IDL says that the renewal of states of emergency in the region negates the exceptional nature of the situation, particularly since there is no extreme or exceptional situation threatening public order.

Servindi also points out that states of emergency have been requested by the Peruvian National Police (PNP) which provides private security to the MMG, the firm that owns Las Bambas. According to IDL, this represents a clear conflict of interest.

For the full legal report written by IDL click here

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