'Judicial harassment' of family by mine company condemned

16 December 2013

Human rights advocates are calling on authorities to ensure due process and protection for a family that is facing forced eviction to make way for the Conga mining project in Cajamarca, northern Peru.

Conga owners Yanacocha have brought a case against local resident Maxima Acuña Chaupe and her family, alleging illegal occupation of the land. The family’s plot lies next to the Laguna Azul, which the company intends to use for waste disposal. Hearings began in late November. Previous legal action resulted last year in a court ruling in favour of the company, a decision that was overturned by the provincial High Court in July because of legal and factual irregularities, including failure to consider the family’s document of possession.

According to a public petition, “Since 2011 [Maxima Chaupe] has been subjected to violent eviction attempts and continued threats from the mining company Yanacocha and the Special Operations Division of the Peruvian National Police (DINOES), who have been contracted to work for the mining company.” In August 2011, Chaupe and her daughter were left unconscious, their shelters destroyed and several of their livestock dead after a clash with the DINOES. Chaupe bought the land in 1994 and refused to sell it to the mining company in 2011, but the company argues that community leaders have transferred ownership to them.

Advocates are calling on the authorities to “thoroughly investigate all acts of human rights violations, intimidation, threats and harassment to Maxima Acuña Chaupe and her family, committed by the Yanacocha mining company, its private security forces and the National Police of Peru.” They are also calling for investigations of alleged illegal evictions and acquisition of property. They have expressed concerns that the process has been deliberately prolonged so that the family’s lawyer, who is due to give birth in January, will be unable to work on the case till its completion.

The Conga project has faced vigorous opposition from local communities, not least because of plans to drain lakes that provide their water.

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    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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