On 8 May the Ica High Court of Justice overturned a judgement from the previous year, and opened the way to continued proceedings against three community leaders from the southern province of Espinar, Peru. Last year, the Court had dismissed the case on grounds of lack of evidence.
The community leaders are Oscar Mollehuanca, former Mayor of Espinar, and Sergio Huamani and Herbert Huaman, both former leaders of the Frente de Defensa of Espinar.
The three leaders have been being ‘processed’ now for seven years since their arrest with others following the 2112 violent protest against the project Antapaccay, a mine development being carried out by Xstrata to replace the exhausted Tintaya mine in Espinar. The protesters claimed that the project would threaten livelihoods by its contamination of water and pollution of the atmosphere, and were also asking for a revision of the agreement between the company and the communities (the Convenio Marco). Their arrest caused much concern at the time for lack of due process and other human rights abuses. The accusations against the three, and the others arrested with them, cited disturbances of the peace and disruption of public services.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, declared: “The decision of the High Court of Justice represents a harsh blow to those who work to defend human rights in Peru and is yet another example of how the authorities continue to use criminal law to harass and silence environmental defenders. Rather than criminalizing them, the Peruvian authorities should take effective and timely measures to protect them.”