(Lima/Ottawa) Tomorrow, November 21, the Superior Court of Lima will hold a hearing concerning the harassment and illegal and arbitrary detention of MiningWatch Canada’s Latin America Program Coordinator Jen Moore and U.S. journalist John Dougherty on April 21 in Cusco, Peru. The two were surrounded by national police, many in plain clothes, and taken in for hours of questioning following a screening of the documentary “Flin Flon Flim Flam” about abuses at Hudbay Minerals’ operations in the Americas.
Evidence submitted to the court demonstrates that mere hours after the two voluntarily left Peru on April 23, the Superintendent of Migration imposed an indefinite migratory alert against them, prohibiting their reentry to the country, and concluding that showing a film about mining constitutes a threat to public order in Peru. The two were not officially notified of this decision, learning about it two months later through other channels.
The Cuatro Sala Penal Con Reos Libres of the Superior Court of Lima will consider the habeas corpus filed by the Institute for Legal Defence, Human Rights Without Borders - Cusco and the Association for Life and Human Dignity (APORVIDHA) acting on behalf of MiningWatch Canada.
“While there have been hundreds of cases of criminalization and repression in Peru in recent years to try to silence the protests of mining-affected communities, this case indicates a shift toward the criminalization of the work of journalists and other environment defenders for sharing information and expressing opinions on what is taking place,” remarked Jaime Borda from Human Rights Without Borders - Cusco.
The privatization of public security forces in Peru could have enabled this case of legal persecution. Human rights organizations have discovered some 118 contracts between oil, gas and mining companies with state armed forces in Peru to provide them with security services. HudBay Minerals has such a contract with national police.
“On the basis of the information available about these contracts that privatize the national police force, it is likely that the police were acting on their contract with Hudbay when they harassed, followed and detained Moore and Dougherty. Such contracts subordinate state forces to company needs, creating a conflict of interest with their role to protect the population, for which reason it is necessary that such arrangements be abolished,” stated Ana María Vidal from the National Coordinator for Human Rights.
Ninety networks and organizations from around the world have sent a letter to Peruvian authorities on Friday urging them to take all measures necessary to stop this process of criminalization and to prevent it from happening again, including to halt the privatization of the public security apparatus which enables the criminalization of dissent and defence of human rights, particularly in areas where communities are in conflict over extractive projects that threaten their wellbeing.
"It’s tremendously worrying that mining companies such as Hudbay may be using the police to try to cut off communities from independent sources of information and support. This seems to represent another in a long series of efforts to of target groups that seek to help communities affected by mining in Peru. In 2011, for example, Wikileaks released a US embassy cable describing an attempt by major mining companies to use Canadian, US, and other diplomats in Lima to make government officials stop the advocacy efforts of teachers, priests, political parties, local campesino organizations, and NGOs. Criminalization of such groups has skyrocketed since that time. This must stop," commented Jen Moore for MiningWatch Canada.
- Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439, jen(at)miningwatch.ca