Ten years ago this week, on August 14th, the case of La Oroya was admitted before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. For ten years, the petitioners have been waiting to receive the Merits Report on their case, which will conclude whether the facts of the case constitute human rights violations.
For ten years, their bodies contaminated by heavy metals, they have been seeking justice.
In honor of this unfortunate anniversary, the petitioners in the case, along with those of us who support them, drafted public letters to the Commissioners.
The letters are part of a strategy to pressure the Commission to issue the Report in favor of the people of La Oroya and, in doing so, move the process of justice forward to the Inter-American Court.
The La Oroya case is emblematic of the problem of widespread toxic metal contamination in Peru, so a Merit Report in our favor would create an important antecedent. It would contribute to guaranteeing the rights of many affected communities across the country, which have been grouped together in the National Platform of People Affected by Heavy Metals.
What follows is an excerpt from the letter written by our clients, the affected residents of La Oroya:
“We came before this International body to find justice, yet after all these years we still haven´t found a concrete solution to our situation.
We have provided the Commission, year after year, with detailed information regarding our health, the way our lives have been affected by the actions and omissions of the State, and the fact that today we still don´t have effective treatment for our health conditions.
It’s urgent that the Commission advance in processing our case to ensure effective access to health, a healthy environment, and justice.
The current precautionary measures… that have been active for 12 years have proven insufficient to guarantee effective treatment that would allow us to overcome the illnesses we´ve suffered for decades.
Today we know our bodies are contaminated, but we still don´t know what the correct treatment is for our recovery.
Our day-to-day situation worsens, not only from the poisoning but also from the attacks we suffer from members of our own community because of our defense. They accuse us of not allowing the reactivation of the metal smelter, despite the fact that it threatens the health of the entire community, because for some it is the only economic option available in La Oroya.
Our case demonstrates the situation of heavy metal poisoning that is affecting people throughout the country.
A timely and adequate statement from the Commission would help to not only transform our reality and guarantee our rights, but would also open new paths toward justice and a healthy environment for the thousands of people currently affected by toxic metals in Peru.”
We have submitted this and two letters of support to the Commission, which we invite you to read in full on our website.
The outreach strategy that accompanies the official letters includes a social media campaign and a public webinar honoring the 10th anniversary of the case.
As we continue to seek justice, we are proud to support the affected people of La Oroya and uplift their voices through the design and implementation of awareness campaigns.
Thank you for listening to their message, and for your ongoing support.