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Peru: More than 100 NGOs call on Supreme Court to overturn indigenous leader conviction for participation in protests against Santa Ana mining project

In 2011, local communities in the Puno region mobilized against the Santa Ana mining project, owned by the mining company Bear Creek. The protest demanded the cancellation of the project due to the risk of contamination of water sources and the lack of consultation of local communities.  There were clashes with the police that repressed the demonstration and, the government finally canceled the project. The company sued the Peruvian Govt. and the arbitration court asked it to pay 31 million US Dollars.  On the protesters, the Prosecutor’s Office of Puno initiated criminal proceedings against the main leaders, which led to the conviction of Walter Aduviri in December 2017.  Business & Human Rights Centre invited Bear Creek to respond to this trial and the company said that as it is not party in this case, it was “unable to provide any comment”.

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Company response
22 September 2018

Response by Bear Creek

Author: Bear Creek

…Thank you for contacting Bear Creek Mining and offering the opportunity to respond. Bear Creek Mining considers its corporate social responsibility a top priority and conducts its business to the highest ethical standards and in complete respect of all laws and regulations applicable to us.  Our community partnerships and programs have helped to improve health and living conditions, offered greater educational opportunities and provided direct and indirect employment to hundreds of people in the Puno Region. We expect that our social responsibility programs will continue to be well received by our neighbors.

As Bear Creek Mining is not a party to the matters discussed in the articles you cite, we are unable to provide any comment.

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13 September 2018

“More than one hundred organizations reject the unjust payment of USD $31 million to Canadian mining company Bear Creek”

Author: Institute for Policy Studies

September 13, 2018

In recent weeks, international organizations from five continents have endorsed a public sign-on letter entitled: Stop the Criminalization of Social Protest and Corporate Impunity in Peru!! The initiative was promoted by local organization Human Rights and Environment – DHUMA of Puno (a member of the Peruvian National Coordinator of Human Rights – CNDDHH and of the MUQUI Network), in alliance with international organizations such as the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) of Washington D.C. , The Democracy Center in Bolivia and MiningWatch Canada...The Sign-On Letter, supported in total by 131 Peruvian and international civil society organizations, urges the Supreme Court to annul the sentence against Walter Aduviri.  Aduviri was sentenced to 7 years in prison and ordered to pay more than USD$600,000 in damages, for alleged crimes committed during the socio-environmental conflict known as the “Aymarazo” in 2011.

On September 17th, 2018, the Peruvian Supreme Court will hear Aduviri’s appeal in Lima. According to the Sign-On Letter, if the Supreme Court does not annul the sentence, they will be setting harsh precedents for the defense of territory and human rights in Peru. It goes on: “We are disturbed to note a growing tendency towards deepening criminalisation. The abusive imposition of penal processes against social organisation leaders and communities via a distorted use of criminal offenses (such as aggravated extortion and Indirect Perpetration) is particularly worrying. Such wilful misinterpretation of the law seeks to equate social organisations with criminal groups and their spokespeople with instigators of crime. As such it represents a grave attack on human rights; on freedom of expression; and on social mobilisation”.

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17 July 2018

International public sign-on letter: Stop the criminalisation of social protest and corporate impunity in Peru!!

Author: Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente Puno (DHUMA)

The undersigned, national and international civil society organisations, address you in solidarity with the Aymara communities of Southern Peru, who have organised to defend their natural wealth, their territory, their water and the health of their people against the various mining projects established in the region...

We refer here specifically to the charges related to the socio-environmental conflict known as the ‘Aymarazo’ of 2011...The protest resulted in a fierce repression at the hands of the Peruvian State and, ultimately, in the cancelation of the project.  However, the Prosecution of Puno initiated criminal processes against the main spokespersons, which resulted in Walter Aduviri – the main spokesperson – being charged with 7 years in prison...Aduviri’s case is currently being considered by the Supreme Court of Justice of Peru...We consider that, if the Supreme Court ratify the sentence against Aduviri, a dangerous judicial precedent will be set that would undermine the defense of human rights and of territory in Peru...

We demand that the transnational Bear Creek Mining Corporation and the mining corporations that are mainly concentrated in the South of Peru respect the rights and decisions of communities in relation to the Santa Ana project...These multinational corporations also turn to international tribunals to sue countries for compensation when they feel that their profits have been put at risk in any way.  In 2014, Following on from the Aymarazo, Bear Creek Mining Corporation sued Peru in the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) of the World Bank.  The World Bank ruled in Bear Creek’s favour, ordering Peru to pay the transnational the sum of US$18.2 million. This amount, added to the interests and legal costs incurred by the Peruvian State, have totalled a skyrocketing US$37 million...

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