JUDGE ORDERS PERU HEALTH MINISTRY TO RESPOND TO OIL CONTAMINATION

A judge from the Superior Court of Loreto in the northern Peruvian Amazon has ruled that the Health Ministry must take action to help four indigenous communities affected by oil operations and contamination. The judge orders the Ministry to design and implement an Emergency Public Health Strategy. This should include providing medical attention to members of the four communities, identifying those who may have been contaminated by oil operations, and paying particular attention to the needs of children, pregnant mothers and the elderly, among other things. The four communities are Cuninico, Nueva Esperanza, San Francisco and Nueva Santa Rosa. The judge also orders the Health Ministry to report back regularly on its progress, and the regional government and local municipalities to participate as required. One of the lawyers involved, Juan Carlos Ruiz Molleda, from the Instituto de Defensa Legal in Lima, calls the judge’s ruling “historic.” Oil companies have operated in the northern Peruvian Amazon for over 40 years - with appalling social and environmental impacts on the indigenous peoples living there. (24-02-17)

David Hill