Nearly all the children in La Oroya, Peru have high concentrations of heavy metals in their blood. Many residents suffer from chronic lung illnesses. A metal smelter has contaminated the air, soil, and water of this Andean city since 1922. AIDA is providing free legal advocacy to help the community hold the government accountable for the health impacts and environmental damage. After nearly two decades, the case is headed to an international court.
For decades, emissions from a metal smelter in La Oroya have poisoned residents with toxic heavy metals. The developing brains and bodies of children are most vulnerable, but most residents have been affected. Neither the current U.S. corporate owner nor the Peruvian government has responded appropriately to international calls to reduce emissions. They have failed to provide adequate healthcare. And for decades they have avoided educating residents about all the health risks.
AIDA presented the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. After assessing government compliance with its recommendations, the Commission will present it to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. AIDA will work with local partners to gather more data, write and file legal briefs, and present oral testimony. The Court can order compensation, including requiring Peru to provide health care, to recognize its responsibility, and to prevent similar violations in future.
We aim to demonstrate that health impacts from toxic contamination are human rights violations. We also intend to prove the Peruvian government's lack of control over a private company whose activities have caused environmental degradation and human rights violations. These legal precedents would strengthen international law and be applicable to future cases. In La Oroya, the health of children and their families will improve and the government will be pressured to clean up contamination.