Monterrico Metals lawsuit (re Peru)

Peru protestors, Leigh DayPara 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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Author: Liliana Rojas, La República [Perú]

Casi siete años después de que 28 campesinos de Piura fueron…torturados por participar en una marcha pacífica contra el proyecto minero Río Blanco, la…Fiscalía formuló…acusación contra 14 policías (entre ellos dos coroneles)…Los campesinos fueron torturados del 1 al 3 de agosto del 2005 en las instalaciones de la minera…[por] efectivos de la Policía Nacional, [y participación de] ejecutivos y trabajadores de Río Blanco Copper SA (ex minera Majaz) y de la empresa de seguridad privada Forza [parte de Securitas]…[A] la fecha existen dos investigaciones penales, una…contra…[los] policías…y otra…contra dos generales y más de 300 suboficiales, así como ejecutivos y trabajadores de Río Blanco Copper S.A. y de Forza…A fines del 2009, Monterrico Metals PLc [parte de Zijin]...propietaria de Río Blanco Cooper, aceptó indemnizar a los 28 campesinos…[y] a los familiares del comunero muerto, para evitar un juicio en las altas Cortes Británicas, a las que habían acudido las víctimas…

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3 May 2012

[video] Peru: Undermining Justice

Author: Michael Watts, Al Jazeera

In 2002…Monterrico Metals [part of Zijin]…start[ed]..development work for the huge open cast copper mine called Rio Blanco…In 2005, local communities marched on the mine site in protest against the company's plans…Twenty-eight protesters were detained at the site for three days and…were humiliated and tortured by the security forces…[T]he victims sued Monterrico in the UK…alleging that the company had been complicit in the affair. But though their prospects looked good, the case was settled by Monterrico…just before it came to trial. It meant the victims did get some compensation - but the wider problems they were fighting to reveal were never aired in open court…But it begs a disturbing question: If corporations will do anything to avoid going near a court - how can indigenous peoples ever assert their rights? [Report includes 2009 statement by Monterrico Metals that it "vigorously denies that any of its officers or employees were involved in any alleged abuses at the Rio Blanco exploration project site in 2005."] [also refers to Minera Yanacocha (joint venture Newmont & Compañía de Minas Buenaventura)]

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1 May 2012

[DOC] Broadcast of Al Jazeera documentary on Monterrico Metals in Peru

Author: Mikey Watts

I recently finished a 25 minute film for Al Jazeera English that will be broadcasting worldwide from Wednesday 2 May 2012, as part of Al Jazeera's People & Power series. It is about corporate accountability and the mining sector, looking specifically at the actions of British mining company Monterrico Metals in Peru. If you are interested in watching it, the showing times are as follow: Wednesday, May 2: 1930 DC (Washington DC), 0630 KL (Kuala Lumpur), 0130 Doha, 2330 GMT...

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Author: Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos [Peru]

La Fiscalía de la Nación resolvió ordenar que prosiga la denuncia presentada por la Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos y Fedepaz contra el fiscal Félix Toledo Leiva. [E]n el 2005 el entonces representante del Ministerio Público a pesar de haber tenido un conocimiento directo de las torturas cometidas contra los campesinos que protestaban contra la empresa minera, entonces llamada Majaz [parte de Monterrico Metals, que es parte de Zijin]; no formuló denuncia sobre estos abusos. Al contrario, denunció a las víctimas por su participación en la marcha de sacrificio. Los campesinos torturados afirman que el fiscal se apersonó en el campamento de la minera y observó los evidentes signos de tortura que presentaban...[e] incluso...participó en los malos tratos...

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28 October 2011

The UK's scandalous legal aid bill is a threat to global human rights

Author: Nick Mathiason, Guardian [UK]

[T]here is a real danger the Monterrico [part of Zijin] case could be one of the last of its kind if the UK's coalition government's legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill…becomes law…One major lesson from cases such as this is that transnational companies can no longer operate in poorer countries thinking they can't be pursued. But will similar claims be pursued in the future if the coalition government's bill becomes law? Leigh Day…believes…sections 41–43 of the proposed reforms…will make it all but impossible to pursue claims in British courts…[However, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said] “It will still be possible to bring claims against multinational companies once our reforms to no-win, no-fee conditional fee arrangements are implemented…but we believe that the costs involved will be more proportionate to the sums in issue."...But it seems the UK is poised to make it harder to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to book where it involves companies based in Britain. And that is a scandal we should be ashamed of. [also refers to Trafigura]

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22 September 2011

Justice Secretary Clarke Denies Access to Justice for Victims of Corporate Abuse [UK]

Author: Lisa Nandy MP, Huffington Post [UK]

Ken Clarke accused the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of being 'disingenuous' for claiming that his proposals would make it more difficult for victims of human rights abuse by British-based multi-nationals to gain access to justice. These proposals, contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill…will abolish the recoverability of the success fee from losing defendants, meaning that if lawyers are to profit from a case, they must take it out of the victims' damages…Clarke maintains that the system…has attracted litigation from other countries to the UK. This is a strange argument when you consider that the firms against which litigation has been pursued are British firms…[a]nd since the no win/no fee system was introduced; only nine such cases have been brought in the UK…It cannot be right to rebalance the system so far in favour of powerful, multinational companies…[refers to Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Trafigura]

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11 September 2011

Legal changes will hamper abuse cases [UK]

Author: Kate Allen (Amnesty Int'l UK), Barbara Stocking (Oxfam GB), Andy Atkins (Friends of the Earth), Chris Bain (Cafod), Paul Chandler (Traidcraft), John Hilary (War on Want), Lisa Nandy MP, in Guardian [UK]

We are deeply concerned that clauses of the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill will have a devastating effect on access to justice for the overseas victims of human rights abuses by UK multinational companies...We have seen how the victims of alleged illegal toxic waste-dumping in Ivory Coast sought justice through the UK courts. The company concerned, Trafigura, eventually agreed to settle with the victims out of court...It is vitally important that the victims of such abuses are able to access justice and obtain redress – a failure to do so would not only deny these victims a remedy, but would fuel a cycle of impunity as the risk of civil litigation acts as a deterrent. [Also refers to Monterrico Metals].

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31 August 2011

U.K. Shell Deal Spotlights Value of Common Law Model for Human Rights Litigation

Author: Michael Goldhaber, American Lawyer

Royal Dutch Shell has been sued so many times over its conduct in Nigeria that its cases offer a laboratory experiment for human rights litigation…[T]he "Bodo" case…emerged from obscurity three weeks ago. On Aug. 3, four months after farmers and fishermen from the village of Bodo filed a common law complaint in London high court, Shell's Nigerian subsidiary admitted liability for a pair of oil spills in return for the parent company's dismissal from the suit…[P]arental liability for the conduct of foreign subsidiaries has been called the leading legal question in European business human rights… [T]he common law model of corporate human rights accountability is starting to make the Alien Tort Statute look pretty weak by comparison. Bodo confirms that plaintiffs may have other options if the corporate alien tort hits a dead end. [also refers to Chevron, Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Trafigura, Unocal (part of Chevron)]

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20 July 2011

[PDF] Peruvian torture claimants compensated by UK mining company

Author: Leigh Day & Co

Legal proceedings by 33 Peruvians against UK-based Monterrico Metals [part of Zijin]...have been settled by compensation payment without admitting liability. The London High Court trial was scheduled for 10 weeks from October with about 80 Claimant witnesses. Claimants alleged torture by the Peruvian Police after protesting at Monterrico’s Rio Blanco copper mine (near Ecuador) in August 05. The mine is owned by Monterrico Peruvian subsidiary, Rio Blanco Copper...The Claimants argues Monterrico was complicit in torture/mistreatment...The Claimants alleged...they were beaten, abused, threatened...two women were sexually abused, they forcibly ate rotten food and were detained on a platform for slaughtering animals. [also refers to Forza (part of Securitas), Securitas]

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7 July 2011

House of Commons debate about human rights concerns in Legal Aid Bill [UK]

Author: Leigh Day

Concerns about access to justice for those people who have suffered personal injury or human rights abuses because of the actions of UK companies operating abroad were discussed in a House of Commons debate on 29th June 2011...Leigh Day is not alone in expressing anxiety about the proposed changes to civil litigation costs which will make it almost impossible to bring cases against multinationals. Labour MP Lisa Nandy raised this topic in the Commons...During the debate Nandy referred to the difficulty of bringing group actions and the fact that ending the ability to recover the success fee from defendants will make such cases virtually impossible to run...Michael Mansfield...said that the proposals are a “flagrant violation of the coalition’s own commitment to human rights.” That is why I [Lisa Nandy] am asking for exemption in these particular cases. [refers to Cape, Rio Blanco]

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