Peru responsible for violating human rights

< Back to News

Peru responsible for violating human rights

Victory: The Inter-American Court found Peru responsible for violating the rights of residents of La Oroya, who have been exposed to unsafe levels of toxic contamination for generations.

This ruling is a very important step forward and a key precedent for environmental justice in Latin America, as it is the first case in which the Court recognizes a state’s responsibility for violating the right to a healthy environment and the impact this has on the guarantee of several other rights.

These remarks are also a key precedent for protecting a Healthy Environment for the people of Cerro de Pasco!

The ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case “Community of La Oroya vs. Peru” sets an important precedent for the protection of the right to a healthy environment across the Americas and for adequate state oversight of corporate activities. The first-of-its-kind decision holds Peru accountable for its failure to protect the inhabitants of the Andean city of La Oroya who were exposed to toxic pollution from a smelter complex that operated without adequate pollution controls for a century.

AIDA and APRODEH, a Peruvian human rights organization, with the support of Earthjustice, first filed an international complaint against the Peruvian government in 2006.  In October 2021, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights established the Peruvian government’s responsibility in the case and referred it to the Inter-American Court.

In the judgment, the Court ordered the State of Peru to adopt comprehensive reparation measures for the damage caused to the population of La Oroya, including identifying, prosecuting and, where appropriate, punishing those responsible for the harassment of the victims; determining the state of contamination of the air, water and soil and preparing an environmental remediation plan; providing free medical care to the victims and guaranteeing specialized care to residents with symptoms and illnesses related to contamination from mining and metallurgical activities; ensuring the effectiveness of the city’s warning system and developing a system for monitoring the quality of air, water, and soil; ensuring that the operations of the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex comply with international environmental standards, preventing and mitigating damage to the environment and human health; providing monetary compensation to victims for material and non-material damages.

This ruling issues a warning to governments across the Americas that they cannot sit idly by while multinational corporations poison local communities. Corporations will now be on notice that exposing families to unhealthy levels of industrial pollution is a violation of international law and governments must hold polluters accountable.

On this line, on 16 March 2024, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy responded to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) call for public consultations on the development of a policy to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes under the Rome Statute. The Comment produced highlights the critical connection between human and environmental health, and identifies three causes for concern in this respect, namely destruction of ecosystems, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, as well as pollution and contamination.

We, as Source Internationa took part in developing this document that in fact also includes data about the Cerro de Pasco case study.


On 26 March 2024, The Guardian published an article about the collection of comments produced by academics, lawyers and campaigners from around the world that have been sent to the ICC outlining what they call its current regime of “impunity” for serious environmental crimes.

In the upcoming weeks, we will publish and share our final scientific report on the environmental monitoring done in August 2023 in Cerro de Pasco.

Keep sustaining the Cerro de Pasco case!

Spread the word

Share this article on social media:

More articles