ESCR-Net Members Submit Amicus Curiae Brief on International Standards for the Prevention and Remediation of Environmental Damage in the Case of the Community of La Oroya vs. Peru before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
A collective of ESCR-Net members and allied organizations filed an amicus curiae brief on international human rights, environmental, and comparative law standards to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) in the Case of the Community of La Oroya vs. Peru. The case represents an opportunity for the Inter-American Court to repair a prolonged socio-environmental injustice suffered by the community of La Oroya, establishing key standards for violations derived from industrial pollution throughout the American continent and the world.
The amicus curiae brief was prepared by ALTSEAN- Burma (Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma ), Center for Law, Justice and Society Studies – Dejusticia, Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ), Egyptian initiatives for Personal Rights (EIPR), Due Process Foundation (DPLF), the University of Virginia Human Rights Clinic, Justiça Global, Minority Rights Group (MRG), and Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (PODER), with the coordination of the ESCR-Net secretariat .
The La Oroya case involves various issues that are commonly interrelated, but still little elaborated in the jurisprudence of international human rights instances, among them:
- the scope of environmental obligations in the face of large-scale industrial pollution;
- the duties of guarantee, prevention and precaution in environmental matters;
- the duty to regulate and supervise the conduct of private, state and transnational companies whose activities involve risks of environmental damage;
- the recognition and implementation of the right to substantive intersectional equality and non-discrimination in the face of the disproportionate effects of environmental damage on historically marginalized groups, considering, for example, the impact on the rights of people with disabilities within the community;
- the protection of the rights of socio-environmental defenders and the recognition of the seriousness of the effects suffered;
- the primacy of human rights obligations over the commitments emanating from international investment and free trade agreements.
Regarding the right to a healthy environment, the present case offers the Court the opportunity to extend the applicability of the standards detailed in its Advisory Opinion 23/17 referring to the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), making reference to inter-American sources of interpretation—such as the Protocol of San Salvador (PSS)—to its own jurisprudential developments, such as the judgment in the case of Lhaka Honhat vs. Argentina, as well as to findings from other jurisdictions, such as the decision in the case of Portillo Cáceres vs. Paraguay by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, among other sources.
The standards presented in the amicus curiae provide input for the Court's consideration of these crucial issues.