Antécédents de l'affaire: Ramón Abanto Bernal
Le 28 mars 2017, la court suprême provinciale de Cajamarca a innocenté 16 défenseur-ses de l'environnement de la région.
Le 3 septembre 2015, une audience du procès de 16 défenseur-ses des droits humains a été reporté jusqu'au 29 octobre 2015, car l'un des trois juges en charge de l'affaire était absent. Il n'avait pas été informé avant l'audience et de nombreux défenseur-ses des droits humains avaient dû parcourir une longue distance pour assister à l'audience.
Ramón Abanto Bernal est membre du collectif Guardianas y Guardianes de la Laguna (gardiens et gardiennes du lagon), qui s'oppose à la construction d'un important projet minier appelé Conga, prévu dans la région de Cajamarca au Pérou. Selon eux, ce projet aurait un impact négatif sur les droits des habitants de la région.
On 3 September 2015, a hearing in the ongoing trial against 16 human rights defenders was postponed until 29 October 2015 as one of the three judges in the case failed to attend. There was no prior notice given, and many of the human rights defenders had travelled long distances to be present.
The human rights defenders on trial are Mr Milton Sánchez Cubas, Mr Ramón Abanto Bernal, Mr César Tomás Bolaños Ayala, Mr José Percy Zamora Díaz, Mr Segundo Sare Ortiz, Mr Jeremías Chávez Rodríguez, Ms Maritza Emperatriz Bolaños Ayala, Mr Fabio Rodríguez Rojas, Ms María Bilda Silva Rodríguez, Mr Alberto Izquierdo Vargas, Mr Segundo Manuel Bolaños Ayala, Mr Justiniano Montoya García, Ms Yeni Cojal Rojas, Mr Arístides Arévalo Ortiz, Ms Andrea Rodríguez Chávez and Ms Elsa Elvira Bolaños Atalaya.
The mine is to be constructed by the Minería Yanacocha company, which has been operating in the region for nineteen years. Inhabitants of the Cajamarca region allege that contamination from these existing operations have rendered their traditional occupation of dairy production unviable. They further allege that the operations have affected the health of the population, with the rate of stomach cancer now being one of the highest in the country. There have also been effects on the water supply of the local population. The human rights defenders of Guardians of the Lagoon have been assisting their community to speak out against and report these abuses.
The governors of the province of Celendin and the district of Sorochuco accused the 16 human rights defenders of kidnapping, coercion and irreverence to patriotic symbols. According to the defence council, the above-mentioned governors have accused the human rights defenders of disrupting a meeting and of using sticks, stones and knives to kidnap them, an incident which the human rights defenders maintain never occurred. They further note that the governors are close allies of the directorship of Minería Yanacocha.
The public prosecutor has recommended a prison sentence of between 30 and 35 years for each of the accused and reparation of ten thousand soles (approximately 2,800 euro). This case had previously been closed but has been re-opened by the public prosecutor.
This hearing has already been postponed four times. On 21 July 2015, it was postponed as the public prosecutor claimed he had not read the case file. The human rights defenders must make long journeys from the Celendin region to the city of Cajamarca. Many of them are subsistence farmers or parents of small children, and this males the journey very complicated. However, they could face imprisonment if they fail to turn up for these sessions, which are frequently postponed. The human rights defenders view the trial as an attempt to rob them of time and energy which could otherwise be devoted to their peaceful work in the defence of human rights.
Front Line Defenders visited Peru in February 2014 and travelled extensively in the Cajamarca and Cusco regions investigating ongoing conflict between mining companies and indigenous and campesino rights defenders. Following that visit, Front Line Defenders released a report based on field research and interviews with independent human rights defenders and civil society organisations.