One dead and 20 injured in Las Bambas mine protests

Peaceful Assembly

On 14th October, police disrupted a villagers´ protest against the exploitation of the Las Bambas copper mine, leaving one person dead and 20 wounded. The protest was part of a strike action called by the rural communities of Pumamarca, Choqueca, Allahua and Antuyo to denounce the environmental harm caused by vehicles loaded with minerals. About 200 farmers blocked a road used by the company's trucks for transporting minerals extracted from the mine. The Las Bambas mining project is one of the largest in the history of Peru, with Chinese firm MMG investing US$10 billion dollars in the project. A report by the environmental NGO Cooperacción documents testimonies by local farming communities who claim their livestock are dying, the area has become less fertile and their health is at risk as a result of 300 heavy company trucks circulating daily through unpaved roads. In 2015, four protesters were killed in a similar incident in Las Bambas.

On 12th October, thousands of Peruvians marched in Lima in the latest in a series of demonstrations against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which was signed during the administration of former president Ollanta Humala. Representatives from student groups, social organisations and political parties marched to express their rejection of the TPP, which they believe to be harmful to the economic interests of ordinary Peruvians. The march ended in clashes between protesters and security forces, after the authorities attempted to disperse the crowds using tear gas and baton charges.

Expression

In September, two journalists were fined as a result of libel and defamation cases. Ronald Daniel Ormeño, editor of the weekly Prensa al Día was jailed for failing to pay 10,000 soles (2,600 euros), having been convicted of libel. Meanwhile, Milagros Rodríguez Hidalgo, a journalist with Diario Tumbes 21 newspaper was ordered to pay 100,000 soles (26,000 euros) following a defamation case related to her reporting of corruption allegations in the regional administration. Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders expressed their concerns that damages awarded or sought in these two cases are utterly disproportionate and called on the authorities to decriminalise media offences without delay in order remove obstructions journalist's work.

The Peruvian investigative journalism site Ojo Público was recently denounced by Javier Villa Stein, a sitting Supreme Court Judge. Stein submitted a complaint about Ojo Público before the National Authority of Personal Data, under the Law on Personal Data Protection. His complaint related to their publication of a report on his financial and real estate assets. Although the justice ministry dismissed Stein’s complaint, Peruvian journalists remain concerned that Law on Personal Data Protection is being used to censor journalists and undermine the rights of Peruvian citizens to access to public information and a free press.