Monterrico Metals Faces Injunction Over Torture Allegations In Peru
(Warning: The images of the brutality and atrocities committed by the security forces of the British company, Monterrico Metals as linked to herein, may be shocking to some readers.)
A Press release from CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, working with communities in over 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, supporting people to find their own solutions to poverty.
~ Marc Choyt, Publisher
As alleged victims of torture in Peru bring an injunction against British mining company Monterrico Metals, NGOs are calling for foreign victims of UK corporate abuses to have better access to justice in English Courts.
In their written evidence to the ongoing inquiry on business and human rights by the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights, CAFOD and The Peru Support Group have highlighted the case of Monterrico Metals and called for action by the British Government to influence the behaviour of UK and UK-listed companies overseas.
London-based law firm Leigh Day served an injunction against Monterrico Metals on June 2nd, preventing the company from disposing of its assets before a further hearing on June 16th. This action has been brought by 13 alleged victims of illegal detention and torture who are seeking damages for physical and psychological injuries suffered at or in the vicinity of the Río Blanco mine in Piura, Northern Peru. Lawyers from Leigh Day gave evidence to the parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Monterrico Metals operated the Majaz copper mining exploration project through its local subsidiary Minera Majaz from 2002. The project drew opposition from the local communities who contended the company was operating on their land without proper consent and feared its potential environmental damage. In 2005, 29 people were allegedly illegally detained by the police after a protest march, held inside the mining camp and according to their witness statements were subject to various forms of physical and psychological torture.
In July 2008, Peru’s National Coordinator for Human Rights (CNDDHH) and local human rights organization, the Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace (Fedepaz), lodged a formal complaint in Peru about these allegations. Earlier this year the CNDDHH made public a set of shocking photographs showing the injuries sustained by Melanio García, a protestor who died in August 2005, allegedly after being illegally detained by company security guards and/or police as punishment for taking part in a protest march.
However, in March this year, Peruvian prosecutors accused police of torturing protesters at the mining camp in 2005 but cleared the British company and its security firm of wrongdoing. Peruvian human rights lawyers denounced the findings as incomplete.
Coordinator of the Peru Support Group, Gaby Drinkwater said: “We will be following the progress of the case here in the UK closely. Human rights groups in Peru believe that the conduct of these companies must be properly investigated. The rise and escalation of social tensions caused by mining projects in Peru, of which Rio Blanco is only one case, is cause for concern.”
CAFOD’s private sector policy analyst Anne Lindsay said: “The accusations of torture date back to 2005. It is essential that communities don’t have to wait for years to get access to justice. In addition, our submission shows there are clear actions that the British Government can take now to reduce the future risk of UK businesses being linked to human rights abuses overseas, such as requiring companies to publish human rights impact assessments for significant overseas projects.”
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