Peru’s Constitutional Court to hear case on Amazonian oil spills | Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) Skip to content Skip to navigation
3 March 2022

The Court expects to resolve an amparo that communities of the Peruvian Amazon filed requesting the maintenance of the Norperuvian oil pipeline to prevent further spills. The lawsuit was supported with arguments on the international obligations of the Peruvian State to guarantee the rights to a dignified life and a healthy environment, among others.

Lima, Peru. The Constitutional Court can stop the oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon and, with them, the systematic violation of the fundamental human rights of the indigenous peoples who live there.

On Thursday, March 4, the Court is scheduled to hear and resolve an amparo filed by community members from Quebrada de Cuninico, Urarinas district of Loreto province, demanding the maintenance of the Norperuano oil pipeline, which would prevent new spills.

In 2014, due to a leak in the pipeline, 2,500 barrels of oil were spilled into the creek, which negatively impacted the health and natural environment of the native communities of San Francisco, Nueva Esperanza, Cuninico and Santa Rosa.

The unconstitutional amparo, filed in June 2018 with support from the Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL), seeks a final judicial decision requiring the state-owned company Petroperu to oversee and monitor the operations of the Norperuvian Pipeline, the longest in the country, as well as to maintain all its pipelines in safe working order to prevent further spills.

"It is urgent that the Peruvian authorities put an end to this structural problem that has affected the Peruvian Amazon for decades," said Juan Carlos Ruiz, IDL's lawyer.

Recently, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) presented an amicus brief supporting the communities’ demand, using international human rights law to outline the State’s obligation to guarantee the adoption of administrative, legal, political and cultural measures necessary to protect the rights to a dignified life and a healthy environment.

"The Amazon is an indispensable ecosystem for conserving the planet's climate," said Liliana Avila, coordinator of AIDA's Human Rights and Environment Program. "In contexts of climate crisis, the protection of this ecosystem and the indigenous peoples who inhabit it is an urgent and vital mandate."

The brief also highlights the toxicity of oil to the environment and the duties of the Peruvian State and Petroperu to guarantee the health and integrity of those most vulnerable to hazardous substances, such as children, women and traditional communities.

"There is evidence that the oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon, which directly affect indigenous peoples, are mostly caused by the corrosion of pipelines," says Connie Espinoza, Regional Technical Coordinator of the All Eyes on the Amazon Program (TOA). "The volume spilled is so large that se are finding it impossible to attend to all the remediation needs derived from each and every spill."

According to The Shadow of Oil, an OXFAM report, pipeline corrosion and operational failures caused 65 percent of the 474 spills that occurred in Amazonian oil lots and in the Norperuvian Pipeline between 2000 and 2019—which affected the territory of 41 indigenous peoples—, while third parties caused just 28 percent. Pipeline operators are responsible for the vast majority of spills.

The document also shows that, of the 2,000 sites impacted and contaminated by oil activity in Block 192, only 32 were prioritized for remediation, and that the volume of contamination, on average, would fill 231 national soccer stadiums.

The lack of maintenance of the Norperuvian oil pipeline gravely impacts the Peruvian Amazon and violates the fundamental rights of native communities to enjoy a balanced environment, health, physical integrity, natural resources, territory and other rights of constitutional importance.


press contacts:

Gerardo Saravia, IDL, +51 997 574 695, [email protected]

Nora Sánchez, HIVOS, +593 99 821 5617, [email protected]

Victor Quintanilla, AIDA, +521 5570522107, [email protected]

 

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