The extent to which the pressure to develop extractives is leading to human rights abuses is demonstrated in a new report from Front Line Defenders. This is an NGO incorporated under Irish charity law. In 2013 it worked on cases of abuse of human rights in 64 countries worldwide. On 19 June it released the report of its team which visited Peru in February of this year. The team travelled extensively in the Cajamarca and Cusco regions investigating ongoing conflict between mining companies and indigenous and campesino rights defenders.

In eight pages the report covers many issues familiar to readers of the PSG’s publications, but the concentrated reporting of what the researchers found makes it a powerful document. The report details instances of “intimidation, death threats, physical attacks, surveillance, stigmatisation, smear campaigns and judicial harassment” (p.7). It describes how the abuse of judicial process appears to be used as a means of harassment and stigmatisation, claiming that “lawsuits and charges against human rights defenders <HRDs> appear to have been used in retaliation for the role of the accused in the protest movement rather than due to a genuine violation of the law.” Numerous instances are cited where human rights protesters face up to fifty charges. “In the vast majority of these cases, court proceedings were eventually dropped or ended with the acquittal of the HRDs” (p.2) it says.

The report also highlights the “precautionary protection measures” granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to 46 community leaders and members of rondas (peasant patrols) in Cajamarca, and the state’s failure to comply with these. The group is asking for ten steps from the government, including the review of the new impunity law (see ‘Law 30151’ below).

The report is available at:

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/peru-reportonhumanrightsdefenders.