FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., March 11, 2020 – Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware issued a ruling in Máxima Acuña Atalaya and her family’s lawsuit against U.S.-based Newmont Goldcorp, stating that the case should be heard in Peru rather than the United States.The court did not reach the merits of the case and the dismissal was “without prejudice,” meaning that the court has left open the possibility that the Chaupes could return to the U.S. if the Peruvian courts refuse to hear the case or if Newmont doesn’t abide by the conditions of the dismissal. The court’s initial decision to dismiss on the same grounds was reversed in April of 2019 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit with instructions to reconsider the case in light of an unprecedented judicial corruption crisis in Peru and the courts’ and the prosecutors’ unfair treatment of the Chaupe family.
Marissa Vahlsing, Supervising Attorney for EarthRights International, issued the following statement in response:
“The Chaupe family, subsistence farmers from the rural highlands of Cajamarca, Peru, sued Newmont in the United States for abuse at the hands of the company’s security forces. For a second time, the District Court accepted Newmont’s argument that it is more convenient to hear the case in Peru, rather than in Newmont’s home forum of Delaware, and that the family will be treated fairly in Peruvian courts. Newmont’s argument is deeply flawed and a transparent attempt to avoid accountability. U.S. companies should have to answer to U.S. courts for the harm they cause.
“The court once again made this ruling in the face of significant evidence of corruption in the Peruvian courts, and of corruption of those courts by Newmont itself. Although the court appeared to share our concern about the Chaupes’ ability to get a fair hearing in Peru, the court was unable to conclude that Peruvian courts were ‘clearly unsatisfactory,’ so as to merit the case going forward in the United States.
“It’s important to note that the court reached this conclusion precisely because Peruvian courts had at times ruled in favor of the family and against Newmont, despite Newmont’s past corruption. In light of these past allegations of corruption, the court cautioned that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could and should act as a check on Newmont’s ability to improperly influence the courts in Peru going forward. Finally, in concluding that the Peruvian courts were up to the task of deciding Maxima’s case, the court also noted that the whole world was watching this case.
“Maxima and her family do not share the court’s optimism about their ability to have a fair trial in Peru. Peruvian courts have failed for years to protect them from Newmont’s abuse, which gave rise to the need to bring the lawsuit in the United States in the first place. The family is considering their options and next steps.”
Contact: Kate Fried, EarthRights International