Inter-American Human Rights Court delivers long-awaited justice for the people of La Oroya, Peru

It’s the first time an international court has held a nation responsible for environmental impacts generated by the private sector

By Jed Koball | Mission Co-worker Peru

Yolanda Zurita speaks to a group of visiting Presbyterians about the work of not only demanding that the authorities take responsibility for the contamination in La Oroya but that the residents take greater action in restoring the land that sustains them. (Photo by the Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick)

On March 22, the Inter-American Human Rights Court found the State of Peru responsible for violating the rights of residents of the Andean town of La Oroya, who had been exposed to decades of toxic emissions from a metallurgical complex located in the heart of the town.

In 2006, 80 residents of La Oroya filed legal action in the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, claiming that the State of Peru has never taken adequate action to protect the residents’ rights to a healthy environment. Nearly 20 years later, the court has finally spoken.

“How great is our God!,”  proclaimed Yolanda Zurita, a longtime resident and activist for environmental health in La Oroya. “This ruling is very broad. Apart from reclaiming our right to environmental and human health, it recognizes us as citizens and aims to make the State and the private sector recognize our right to information, political participation and environmental activism.”

Read the full Presbyterian News Service Article

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