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Monterrico Metals lawsuit (re Peru)

In 2009, eight Peruvians commenced legal proceedings in the English High Court against British mining company Monterrico Metals and its Peruvian subsidiary Rio Blanco copper. Plaintiffs allege police detained 28 people protesting against the proposed development of the Rio Blanco Mine and committed several human rights violations against them including sexual assault and beatings. The company settled the case out of court but did not admit liability. 

 

Para la versión en español de este perfil de las demandas judiciales contra Monterrico Metals por actividades en Peru, haga clic acá.

In early 2009, eight Peruvians commenced legal proceedings in the English High Court against British mining company Monterrico Metals and its Peruvian subsidiary Rio Blanco Copper (previously known as Minera Majaz).  The number of claimants has since increased.  The claimants alleged that in July-August 2005, police detained 28 people protesting against a proposed development of the Rio Blanco Mine, sprayed noxious substances in their faces, hooded them, beat them with sticks and whipped them.  Two of the female detainees alleged they were sexually assaulted and threatened with rape.  The detainees claimed that the abuse and detention went on for three days and that they suffered serious injuries.  The claimants sought damages for the alleged direct involvement of certain Monterrico and Rio Blanco personnel in the abuse (along with personnel from a private security company employed by Rio Blanco), alleged material support to the police, and the companies’ failure to prevent or react to the abuse.  The companies deny any involvement in the alleged abuses.

On 2 June 2009, the claimants obtained a freezing injunction at the English High Court prohibiting Monterrico from disposing of assets to an extent that would leave it with less than £7.2 million in the UK.  The company had indicated that, for commercial reasons, it planned to de-list from the FTSE Alternative Investment Market (AIM) index.  This raised concerns that it might transfer assets out of the jurisdiction and thus prevent the claimants from collecting damages following any successful action.  This freezing injunction was made permanent on 16 October 2009 for the sum of £5.015 million.  On 20 July 2011, the company settled the case out of court by compensation payments and without admitting liability.

On 6 June 2008, Peru’s National Coordinator for Human Rights (CNDDHH) and the Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y la Paz (FEDEPAZ) filed a criminal complaint against senior police officers responsible for the police response to the protest, police officers involved in the alleged abuse, and against Rio Blanco security and other personnel.  The complaint alleges tat Rio Blanco’s security personnel were directly involved in the abuses.  On 9 March 2009, the prosecutor cleared the mining company and their security personnel of wrongdoing, but allowed proceedings against the police to continue on the charges of torture.  On 16 March 2009, FEDEPAZ appealed the prosecutor’s decision.  On 2 April 2009, the appeal was accepted by the prosecutorial authority, which ordered further investigations, including the taking of statements from identified employees and a legal representative of Rio Blanco.

On 14 November 2012, the First Penal Appeal Court of Piura sentenced the former Joint Provincial Attorney of Huancabamba for omission charges. The former Attorney accepted charges and admitted to committing the offences contained in the proceedings. He acknowledged that a group of peasants was subject to torture at the mining field of Rio Blanco Copper SA, and that he deliberately omitted to disclose this to the competent judicial body.

- [ES] Perú: 28 campesinos fueron torturados por orden de minera Río Blanco en el 2005, Servicios en Comunicación Intercultural Servindi, 5 Agosto 2010
- [ES] Demanda millonaria contra una minera británica por las acciones contra manifestantes en Perú, Agencia EFE, 19 Octubre 2009
British mining company faces damages claim after allegations of torture in Peru, Ian Cobain, Guardian [UK], 18 Oct 2009
Abuse claims against Peru police guarding British firm Monterrico, Ian Cobain, Guardian [UK] 18 Oct 2009
Peru blames police in copper mine torture case, Dana Ford, Reuters, 18 Mar 2009
- [ES] ONG denuncia la tortura a detenidos por protestar contra una minera en Perú, Agencia EFE, 26 Junio 2008

- Monterrico Metals plc: Update from Monterrico Metals, 27 Oct 2009
- Rio Blanco Copper S.A. [PDF] The company rejects all types of violence and reinforces its respect for human rights, 16 Jan 2009
- Leigh Day & Co. [counsel for claimants]: [PDF] Peruvian torture claimants compensated by UK mining company, 20 Jul 2011
- Leigh Day & Co. [counsel for claimants]: Peruvian torture victims obtain worldwide freezing injunction over mining company assets, 19 Oct 2009
- Environmental Defender Law Center: Mining Oppponents Tortured in Peru
- Confederación Nacional de Comunidades del Perú Afectadas por la Minería (CONACAMI): [PDF] [ES] Informe de Caso: Monterrico Metals plc, Abril 2008

- English High Court, Queen’s Bench Division: [PDF] Mario Alberto Tabra Guerrero & Others v. Monterrico Metals plc and Rio Blanco Copper SA, Judgment re Freezing Injunction, 16 Oct 2009
- Fiscal de la Quinta Fiscalía Provincial Penal de Piurna, [ES] Formula denuncia penal, 26 Jun 2008

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