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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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Autor(a): Richard Meeran, Leigh Day, in The Guardian [UK]

The government's proposed changes to the civil litigation costs regime, which will severely restrict access to justice for many vulnerable individuals, have so far passed relatively unnoticed. However, those adversely affected will include victims of UK multinational human rights violations in developing countries…Two aspects of the government's proposals…will dramatically impact on claimant lawyers' ability and enthusiasm to litigate in future: First, that defendants should only pay claimants' legal costs if "proportionate" to the compensation…these cases…are intrinsically complex. Moreover as so much is at stake, the multinationals instruct top City law firms to defend them to the hilt. Consequently, legal costs invariably substantially exceed compensation…Secondly, claimant lawyers' success fees will not be recoverable from defendants and would instead need to be deducted from claimants' compensation…The result – that claimants' lawyers can recover legal costs only up to the level of damages without success fees – will make these multinational cases financially unviable. [refers to Cape, Thor Chemicals, Trafigura, BP, Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin)]

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Autor(a): Corporate Responsibility Coalition

The UK government has recently proposed wide-ranging reforms to the costs regime for civil litigation following a review by Lord Jackson. The…reforms will significantly restrict the ability of claimants and their lawyers to recover legal costs from defendants. They will have particularly devastating consequences for human rights claims against multinational corporations (MNCs)... [in particular:] MNCs will no longer have to pay a success fee in the event that a case against them is successful…MNCs will only have to pay claimants’ basic legal costs insofar as they are ‘proportionate’ to the compensation received…in reality…[this] will mean that wherever the costs of a claim exceed the compensation awarded (which, as explained, is almost inevitable in cases against MNCs), MNCs will have strong grounds for resisting payment of the additional costs, even where they were essential to the success of the case…[and] [i]nstead of MNCs paying the full costs, the reforms propose that a proportion of the costs are instead taken out of claimants’ compensation.

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Autor(a): Compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In April 2009 the Zijin Mining Consortium--Zijin Mining Group, Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, and Xiamen Construction and Development--acquired a 90% stake in the mine...In December 2009, police forces allegedly entered a local village and opened fired on farmers who blocked the road, killing two. NGOs and the media reported on the incident, and in February 2011 a film was released documenting it using footage shot by villagers at the time. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the three members of the Zijin Mining Consortium to respond to the film and two earlier reports. All three companies declined to respond. In March 2011, four NGOs...sent a letter to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange regarding Zijin Mining's disclosure of environmental and social risks in relation to Rio Blanco. The letter....called on the Exchange to ensure that Zijin Mining discloses its risks...On 4 March, South China Morning Post reported on the letter...Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Hong Kong Stock Exchange to comment on the letter. The Exchange sent the following reply...

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Autor(a): Richard Meeran, Leigh Day & Co

Over the past decade, the US Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”)…has generally been viewed as the mechanism with the most promising potential for holding MNCs to account for human rights violations in developing countries. In recent years, US public interest lawyers have been at the forefront of developing ATS cases where MNCs are alleged to have been complicit with states in such violations…However a majority decision of the US Second Circuit Courts of Appeals in September 2010…held that customary international human rights law does not recognise the liability of corporations, and consequently that MNCs cannot be liable under “ATS”…This issue may well be finally resolved by the Supreme Court…Consequently, at this point in time it would seem timely to consider the state of play with regard to the continued development of more conventional tort law remedies. These too have yielded considerable success over the past decade or so. [refers to Anglo American, Anvil Mining, BHP Billiton, BP, Cambior, Cape plc, Chevron, Gencor, Merck, Minera Majaz (part of Monterrico Metals), Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Rio Blanco (part of Monterrico Metals), Rio Tinto, Securitas, Shell, Thor Chemicals, Unocal (part of Chevron), Zijin]

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Autor(a): Tim Webb, Guardian [UK]

A mining company in Peru part-owned by [BHP Billiton] agitated for the removal of teachers and Catholic bishops to new posts away from "conflictive mining communities", according to a leaked US cable obtained via WikiLeaks...The US and Canadian ambassadors, who hosted a summit of foreign mining executives in Peru in August 2005, requested specific examples of "anti-mining" teachers and bishops...to take to government and church leaders...The Majaz open cast mine, owned by British company Monterrico Metals [part of Zijin] and site of one of the bloodiest protests...was said by company representatives to lie "along a foot track used by couriers who convey opium latex to Ecuador," reported the same cable...the cable...added that in the past there had been instances where...companies falsely claimed that drugs traffickers were co-ordinating protests to "enlist our [US government] assistance". Police shot three protesters at the Majaz mine protest, one of whom died. Protesters have issued proceedings in the high court in London against Monterrico Metals relating to the alleged "torture..." of demonstrators by police. The company...has vigorously denied any involvement in the alleged abuses...[refers also to Anglo American's Minera Quellaveco, Antamina (owned by BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Mitsubishi, Teck)]

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Autor(a): Leigh Day & Co.

At Leigh Day, we have had a very interesting and rewarding past 12 months from representing injured clients in the Battersea Crane Crash to miners in South Africa, fighting for equal pay for women against Birmingham City Council, and engaging in legal challenges to government on human rights violations from Yarl’s Wood to Guantanamo Bay. Our annual review newspaper...reports on these and many of our other cases. [refers to Anglo American, BP, Monterrico Metals (part of Zijin), Trafigura, DePuy International, Total, Chevron, Motherwell Control Systems, TAV Engineering, Cape plc, Shell, Erinys, BAE, Serco]

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Autor(a): Leigh Day & Co

Following a fully contested hearing in July 2009, the UK High Court has ordered a freezing injunction for £5 million against London-registered multinational mining company, Monterrico Metals Plc [now part of Zijin]. The injunction was obtained by a group of 31 indigenous Peruvians who allege that in August 2005 they were tortured by the Peruvian police assisted by mine employees and mine security guards, following their environmental protest at Monterrico’s Rio Blanco copper mine in Peru...

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Autor(a): Ian Cobain, Guardian [UK]

[Monterrico Metals, part of Zijin] is facing a multimillion-pound claim for damages after protesters were detained and allegedly tortured at an opencast copper plant that the firm is seeking to develop in...Peru...Richard Meeran, a solicitor with Leigh Day...obtained a freezing injunction which obliges the company to keep at least £5m of its assets in the UK...A spokesman [for Monterrico] said: "Monterrico vigorously denies that any of its officers or employees were in any way involved with the alleged abuses at the Rio Blanco [formerly Minera Majaz] mine in 2005..."

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Autor(a): Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) [UK]

As alleged victims of torture in Peru bring an injunction against British mining company Monterrico Metals [part of Zijin], 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...London-based law firm Leigh Day served an injunction against Monterrico Metals on June 2nd...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 Rio Blanco mine [part of Monterrico Metals] in Piura...Monterrico Metals operated the Majaz copper mining exploration project through its local subsidiary Minera Majaz from 2002. [refers to Japanese-Korean consortium LS-Nikko Copper, Forza (part of Securitas)]

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Autor(a): Dana Ford, Reuters

Peruvian prosecutors have accused police of torturing protesters at a mining camp in 2005 but cleared a British-Chinese metals company and its security firm of wrongdoing...A government investigation in the northern region of Piura found that more than two dozen people were kidnapped and beaten after protesting against the $1.4 billion Rio Blanco copper project...The inquiry concluded that a handful of...police officers were responsible for the torture. The investigation turned up no evidence against the project's owner, Monterrico Metals...and the parent company...Zijin Mining Group...Forza, the private security firm hired to oversee the camp and owned by...Securitas, also was cleared...Fedepaz, the rights group...[said:] "The prosecutors have decided to blame some of the officers identified as direct authors of what happened ... but not those who ordered (the torture),"...

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