Warning of increased contamination in La Oroya and slow progress by the State to comply with the Inter-American Court ruling | Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) Skip to content Skip to navigation
24 May 2024

The State's progress in implementing the international court's ruling has been slow and insufficient. Meanwhile, a high level of sulphur dioxide has recently been registered in the Andean city due to the partial reactivation of the metallurgical complex and the lack of prevention, warning, monitoring and control measures by the state.


Two months after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its ruling in the case "La Oroya Community vs. Peru," the Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) and the Pro Human Rights Association (APRODEH), organizations that legally represent the victims, warned at a press conference that the Peru is making slow and insufficient progress in effectively complying with the ruling.

The ruling, issued on March 22 and considered a landmark in international law, established Peru’s responsibility for violating the rights of La Oroya residents affected by decades of toxic contamination.

The international tribunal ordered comprehensive remedial measures, including environmental cleanup, reduction and mitigation of polluting emissions, air quality monitoring, free and specialized medical care, compensation, and a resettlement plan for the affected people.

Increased pollution in La Oroya

The organizations also denounced that the government’s slow action is occurring in the midst of an increase in the presence of toxic contamination in the area due to the partial reactivation of the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex and the lack of prevention, warning, monitoring and control measures by the state.

According to the Environmental Monitoring System of the Environmental Evaluation and Control Agency, a high presence of sulfur dioxide has recently been recorded in La Oroya, which makes it imperative that Peru take urgent action based on its international responsibility.

One of the measures ordered by the Inter-American Court is to ensure that the operations of the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex comply with international environmental standards, preventing and mitigating damage to the environment and human health.

Challenges in implementing the ruling

During the press conference, Rosa Peña, Senior Attorney for AIDA's Human Rights and Environment Program, said: "The ruling is a great opportunity for the State of Peru to prevent and better manage the environmental impacts of mining and metallurgical activities, as well as to improve health care for people exposed to contamination. The Court has already identified the key aspects, now it is up to the State as a whole to ensure a good implementation that will serve as an example for other cases at national and international levels."

Christian Huaylinos, coordinator of the legal sector of APRODEH, emphasized the need for an articulated multisectoral work: "A coordinated effort of the three levels of the state—local, regional and national—is needed to advance in the effective compliance of the sentence. In addition, clear mechanisms must be put in place to ensure the effective participation of victims in the implementation of the orders issued by the Court."

Community demands

Yolanda Zurita, a petitioner in the case, emphasized the community's frustration with the lack of prompt and effective action: "We, as a population, need to feel and see that there is compliance. It is not possible that after 20 years of litigation, and after the Court's ruling has been made public, there are officials who claim to be ignoring the ruling."

The Inter-American Court's ruling not only focuses on reparations for direct victims, but also includes restitution measures and guarantees of non-repetition for the entire population of La Oroya and the country. It defines parameters for the proper conduct of mining and metallurgical operations in Peru, in defense of the environment and health.

The ruling is an important precedent for the protection of the right to a healthy environment in Latin America and for adequate state oversight of corporate activities.

AIDA and APRODEH urge the Peruvian government to comply with the measures ordered by the Inter-American Court and to take immediate action to protect the environment and health of the community of La Oroya.

press contact

Víctor Quintanilla-Sangüeza (Mexico), AIDA, [email protected], +52 5570522107


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