For Immediate Release
Peruvian Farmers Appeal in Fight to Hold Newmont Accountable in U.S. Court
WASHINGTON - In a recent decision, a federal court in Delaware decided that Maxima Acuña Atalaya and her family’s case against Newmont Mining Corporation, should be heard in Peru - not Delaware, where the company incorporated almost 100 years ago.
The Chaupes have indicated that they will exhaust all legal avenues that they believe are necessary to ensure that Newmont respects the human rights of those living in the Cajamarca region.
Since 2011, Newmont Mining Corporation, a U.S. company and one of the world’s largest gold producers, has led a campaign of harassment and abuse against the Chaupe family intended to force them off their land and to pave the way for a new open pit gold mine in Peru. The proposed “Conga” mine would be one of the largest in Latin America. After the Peruvian authorities failed to protect the Chaupes from physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Newmont’s security personnel, the Chaupes filed a lawsuit against Newmont in U.S. federal court in Delaware in September 2017. The Chaupes sought an injunction asking Newmont to refrain from the abuse and reparations for the years of abuse they have endured.
In the fall of 2017, Newmont filed a motion to dismiss the Chaupe’s lawsuit under the doctrine of Forum Non Conveniens, arguing that the case should be heard in Peru, not the United States. Newmont claimed that it was inconvenient to litigate the case in Delaware even though the company is incorporated in that state. The family and their lawyers opposed Newmont’s motion, arguing that the Chaupes are unlikely to get a fair trial in Peru, given evidence of Newmont’s corruption of local courts.
“We are going to fight until the end so that Newmont learns to respect human rights and property.” – Ysidora Chaupe Acuña, Plaintiff
“Legal cases like this one can take a long time. This is not unusual, and we are not discouraged by the most recent court decision. We are all committed to seeking justice and won't stop fighting for the Chaupe’s rights.” – Marissa Vahlsing, EarthRights International Attorney
The Chaupes are subsistence farmers who reside in the rural highlands of Cajamarca, Peru. They have cultivated crops and raised livestock on a plot of land known as Tragadero Grande for over 20 years. In 2011, agents of Newmont Mining Corporation attempted to forcibly oust the plaintiffs from their farm so that Newmont could expand their gold mining operations. Since then, Newmont’s agents have used harassment and violence to try to evict the plaintiffs from their farm. The Chaupes have been physically attacked and threatened, and Newmont’s agents have destroyed their property and possessions, and killed or attacked their pets and livestock. They allege that Newmont has the power to cease these abuses but has declined to do so because the Chaupes stand in the way of Newmont’s plans to construct a massive gold mine.
The U.S. federal lawsuit filed in September seeks to stop a pattern of harassment and physical and psychological abuse that the Chaupe family has suffered at the hands of security personnel working for Newmont and its corporate affiliates. Newmont, a U.S. mining company incorporated in Delaware, is one of the world’s largest gold producers.
The case is Acuña-Atalaya v. Newmont Mining Corp., No. 17-cv-01315-GAM in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. In addition to EarthRights International, the plaintiffs are represented by Delaware pro bono attorney Misty Seemans.
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EarthRights International (ERI) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as "earth rights." We specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns. Through these strategies, EarthRights International seeks to end earth rights abuses, to provide real solutions for real people, and to promote and protect human rights and the environment in the communities where we work.