Huascoaltinos claim over Pascua Lama deemed admissible by the Inter-American CHRPublished by MAC on 2010-03-02
The case was submitted to the IACHR in June 2007
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has acknowleged that the Chilean state may have committed violations of rights, enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights, when it approved Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama mining project.
"The Pascua Lama project, as occupying part of our ancestral territory, takes away from us the possibility of protecting our natural and cultural heritage" says the Diaguita Huascoaltinos.
Huascoaltinos claim over Pascua Lama deemed admissible by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
24 February 2010
On February 12 we were notified that the request for our Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos was deemed admissible by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Thus, this international body recognizes that the Chilean state allegedly committed violations of rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights when Chile approved Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama mining project.
The case was submitted to the IACHR in June 2007 by Nancy Yañez, the attorney representing the Huascoaltinos. However, the analysis of the substantive arguments of the case was delayed because of the repeated extensions sought by the State of Chile. Chile also requested that the case not be admitted for prosecution, arguing formal filing failures. However, after 3 years of study, the Commission did not agree with the State of Chile's claims. Instead, the IACHR declared our allegation, which states that there was a Denial of Justice when the State of Chile granted an environmental qualification to the development of Pascua Lama Mining Project in our ancient territories, admissible.
Main arguments of case:
• The lands currently used by Barrick are known as Estancia Chañarcillo and have an extension of 49,000 hectares. These lands were part of our domain title in 1903, however, after a complex series of fraudulent transfers and acquisitions that began in 1913 and culminated in 1998, the Nevada Mining Company, a subsidiary of Barrick Gold in Chile, purchased and registered these lands in March 1999.
• The State of Chile, with the knowledge of these facts, approved the development of Pascua Lama Mining Project without considering any of the comments submitted by our community in the Environmental Assessment Process.
• The State of Chile violated our right to free and informed consent, enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights. For example, when the project was originally approved in 2001 we were not called to any instance of participation.
• The project does not consider in any of its studies the sociocultural impact on the living systems and traditional customs of our 250 community members and their families, who have made free use of the mountains since time immemorial to raise goats, sheep, horses, mules and cattle.
• The Pascua Lama project, as occupying part of our ancestral territory, takes away from us the possibility of protecting our natural and cultural heritage. This heritage is part of an integrated system that allows replication and maintenance of our culture over time.