Peru: Tribunal Emphasizes Right to Healthy Environment

Submitted by John Knox on Sat, 09/19/2015 - 00:00
Latin America and the Caribbean

On September 18, 2015, the Constitutional Tribunal of Peru reversed and remanded a Superior Court's dismissal of a claim to the right to live in an adequate and balanced environment.

Complainant Marco Antonio Arana Zegarra filed for a remedy because Minera Yanacocha S.R.L.'s Conga project allegedly threatened significant, irreversible harm to the Cajamarca ecosystem and communities. Complainant asserted that the Ministry of Energy and Mines improperly approved the project's Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA").

Two lower courts dismissed the complainant's claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. However, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the lower courts had erred by improperly applying constitutional environmental jurisprudence as well as failing to assess the imminent risk of environmental degradation that the project imposed.

The Constitutional Tribunal stated that Peruvians have a constitutional and international-treaty-based right to live in a healthy environment, including the right to enjoy environmental preservation and a balanced and adequate environment. The Tribunal emphasized the precautionary principle and warned that environmental damage harms present and future generations.  It also stated that courts must pay special attention to cases in which there is an alleged threat to the right of an adequate and balanced environment.

For more information about the case, click here.