MAC: Mines and Communities

Peruvian government's response to protests "disportionate" - IACHR

Published by MAC on 2013-03-25
Source: BN Americas., Human Rights Brief

Earlier this month, the Peruvian government faced a number of serious allegations of permitting abuse of  human rights, made before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The commissioners expressed concern that the government is making a "disproportionate" response to citizens' protests - many of them being directed at the mining activities or plans.

Within days of the IACHR hearing, two men were killed during the violent eviction of about 500 "illegal" gold miners in northern Peru.

And commuity leaders in Espinar province demanded a contribution of some US£58 mllion a year from Xstrata's Tintaya-Antapaccay copper mine.

Peru - Local leaders demanding some US$58mn from Xstrata's Tintaya-Antapaccay

By Tiffany Grabski

Business News Americas

20 March 2013

Community leaders in Cuzco's Espinar province have asked for a contribution of 150mn soles (US$57.8mn) a year from Anglo-Swiss Xstrata's Tintaya-Antapaccay copper mine, Peruvian paper La República reported.

Xstrata has offered a fixed yearly contribution of 25mn soles, according to the report, compared to an average annual contribution of 21.2mn soles since 2004, which was calculated as a percentage of the company's earnings.

The re-negotiation of the contributions agreement is part of a roundtable set up in Espinar, where Tintaya-Antapaccay is located, and which is set to come to a close this month.

In February, Xstrata told BNamericas that 14 of 17 articles under the contributions framework had been agreed upon, with agreements pending on economic contributions, local labor contracts and goods and service agreements.

The current agreement was signed in 2003 and stipulates a contribution of 3% of the mine's pre-tax earnings to development projects in surrounding areas. As of 2012, Xstrata's contributions came in just shy of 200mn soles, financing 892 projects in 72 communities, according to an Xstrata report.

Antapaccay, the satellite deposit that will replace Tintaya as it reaches the end of its life, sent its first copper production to port last November. The brownfield project will produce an average of 160,000t/y of copper for at least the first five years and 143,000t/y over the life of mine.

Two dead during eviction of illegal miners in northern Peru

Cecilia Jamasmie

15 March 2013

Two people were killed during a violent eviction of about 500 illegal gold miners in northern Peru, reports El Comercio.

The newspaper reports some 500 miners armed with stones and explosives clashed with police in incidents at La Libertad, about 300 km south of the gold-rich Cajamarca region. Locals have been protesting for days against the government's decision to formalize all artisanal and small-scale miners by April 2014.

Illegal gold production in the South American nation has increased fivefold in the last six years and is estimated to provide 100,000 direct jobs in the country.

According to Peru's Ministry of Environment, the activity has destroyed 18,000 hectares of Amazon so far.

Last year, Minister of Energy and Mines Jorge Merino, said in a press release that Peru had reached a point of "no return" in the fight against illegal mining and that the government is working hard to end this practice that "harms people's health, the environment and the economy."

"Informal mining is a problem that has social connotations. There are about 100,000 informal miners in Peru and another 400,000 compatriots who depend on this activity. We must first understand the problem [and then find a] solution, which it is not easy," he said the statement.

Merino added Peru is one of the first countries in Latin America to address the problem of illegal mining directly, through a gradual process that aims to incorporate informal miners into the system. "Illegal is not the same [as] informal," he said, adding that the latter are supported by the government and continue working for up to two years until their formal incorporation has been completed.

Human Rights and Social Protest in Peru

By Matthew Lopas

Human Rights Brief

12 March 2013

Commissioners: Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Dinah Shelton

Petitioners: Grupo de Formación e Intervención para el Desarrollo Sostenible (GRUFIDES), Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH), Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y la Paz (FEDEPAZ)

State: Peru

Petitioners before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asserted that a number of state policies result in violence and suppression of social protests in Peru, charges that were sharply countered by the state's assertion that it has a responsibility to protect all citizens, not just protestors, and that those who do not like decisions too often resort to claims of human rights violations.

At the March 11 hearing, the petitioning agencies described a situation where at least 24 people have been killed and another 149 injured during the administration of President Ollanta Humala due to tactics used to quiet social protests, including during states of emergency that the government has declared three times. Representatives from Grupo de Formación e Intervención para el Desarrollo Sostenible (GRUFIDES), Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH), Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y la Paz (FEDEPAZ) further described government policies of using the military in small towns and contracting police officers to work for private companies, including mining corporations accused of violating their workers' rights.

The impact of these policies is furthered, according to the petitioners, by the practice of officials, whom the petitioners stated fail to enter into dialogue when imposing states of emergency and who engage in activities that foster impunity, such as the destruction of criminal evidence. Additionally, the sanctions for social protest can be significant, the petitioners argued, with the maximum criminal penalty for blocking traffic higher than that for many homicides.

The representatives from Peru did not focus on the specific complaints but said they vehemently opposed the idea that the state engages in the fundamental suppression of human rights alleged by the petitioners.

Of particular relevance to the state were the domestic mechanisms in place to address the petitioners' complaints. In regard to lack of dialogue, the state proffered a 2012 reform that instituted a governmental office focused on managing social conflict, the National Office of Dialogue and Sustainability. Concerning the use of force by the state, the representatives argued that the nation's constitutional court can review such actions under the national constitution and standards of the Inter-American System of Human Rights, oversight that had previously upheld the government's actions.

The state also said that although the situation in the country is not same as the long-term invocations of emergency laws in the 1980s and 1990s, such steps are sometimes necessary in Peru, where there is a tradition of social conflict and confrontation. In such a climate, the representatives argued that the government also has a responsibility to protect people who are harmed by the blocked traffic and other disruptions caused by protest. When the government sides with the non-protesting parties, the state alleged, demonstrators too often resort to claims of human rights violations and so the Commission should take a clear position on the human rights implications for individuals affected by social protestors.

The Commissioners expressed concern regarding the government action that facilitated opportunities for violations, specifically requesting more information on the procedures involved when police are contracted to private companies and the training of security forces.

Commissioner Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, however, articulated a broader issue of the government's disproportionate response to social protest. Noting that the question could not be resolved solely by the method of constitutional interpretation of the use of force, she said an appropriate issue for discussion was what steps the state has taken to ensure that it reach its stated goal of proportionate response to social protests.

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