Peru: OAS rights body rules in Conga case

Peru's Ministry of Justice said in a statement May 8 that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a body of the Organization of American States (OAS), has rejected a request from activists to recommend revoking the license for the controversial Conga open-pit gold mine in Cajamarca region. But the ministry's statement was immediately refuted by Zulma Villa Vílchez, attorney for the activists. Villa Vílchez asserted that the IACHR had not ruled on the Conga license, but had only issued a determination on another matter related to the conflict around the project—ordering Peru's government to provide protection for local residents, including the Chaupe family, which is in a land conflict with the mining company and facing threats. Said Villa Vílchez: "This injunction must not be confused with the petition we have made before the IACHR to stop the Conga project; they are two different things. On the latter, there has still not been a pronouncement." The case was brought by the Central Única Nacional de Rondas Campesinas (CUNARC), a body representing Peru's peasant self-defense patrols, which have emerged as the backbone of resistance movements to mineral development projects. (La Republica, May 9; Reuters, Caballero Verde, Cajamarca, May 8)

  1. Journalist detained in Cajamarca

    Peru's independent Servindi new agency reports May 13 that local journalist César Estrada Chuquilín, one of the 46 people noted by the IACHR as in need of state protection, was detained by the National Police "while carrying out his journalistic work" in Cajamarca. Meanwhile, Desde el Trecer Piso blog notes most of Peru's mainstream media—El Comercio, Peru21, Semana Economica—have mirrored the error of Reuters in merely echoing the claim of the Justice Ministry that the IACHR rejected the challenge to the Conga mine's licence. Of Peru's major media, only La Republica has aired the activists' claim to the contrary. Contrast Servindi's May 9 report on the ruling.