Justice for Tamshiyacu: Loreto's Superior Court needs to definitively sentence the environmental crimes commited in 2013

Jueves, 1 Octubre, 2020

We, the signatories, urge the Criminal Court of Appeals of Loreto to definitively resolve the conflict generated by the environmental crimes committed by the company Cacao del Peru Norte S.A.C. - linked to the so-called Melka Group and currently known as Tamshi S.A.C. - between the years 2013 and 2016 in Tamshiyacu, capital of the district of Fernando Lores in the province of Maynas, Loreto.

On July 25, 2019, the company and other workers were convicted of illegal trafficking of timber products and obstruction of justice, after deforesting nearly 2000 hectares of primary forest to install a cocoa monoculture plantation. The sentence issued by the Second Unipersonal Criminal Court of Maynas analyzed the illegal conduct committed by the convicted men, and was able to discern all the fallacious arguments used in their defense, which went so far as to deny in an unusual manner the existence of forests, the application of the Forestry and Wildlife Law (Law No. 27308 in effect as of 2013), as well as the need for a previously approved environmental management instrument.

Throughout the judicial process, as well as the various administrative processes promoted by the company to try to amend its illegal acts, it has been demonstrated that they failed to comply with environmental and forestry sector regulations. In effect, the Vice-Ministerial Resolution No. 019-2019-MINAGRI-DVDIAR, of August 12, 2019, has established that the activities carried out in the Tamshiyacu Fund - Jaguar Zone, turn out to be illegal agrarian activities that under no circumstances can be regularized with an Environmental Management Plan (because they are outside the established time frame and because they are lands suitable for forestry), as they attempted.

Due to the transformation of products, as established in article 307 of the Regulations to Law No. 27308, approved by Supreme Decree No. 014-2001-AG, all primary transformation plants must have an authorization, expressly prohibiting their operation without it. In addition, between articles 302 and 311 of the mentioned Regulations, the series of obligations on the transformation of forest products are established, which once again were omitted by the processed company. 

The sentence of July 25, 2019 would not have been possible without the effort and dedication of the affected communities’ local leaders who denounced the events, and the work of the Specialized Environmental Prosecutor's Office, which carried out various operations to gather the information and prepare the case, and the Attorney General's Office of the Ministry of the Environment. This effort also made it possible to determine a civil reparation for the Peruvian State of more than 15 million soles (4 million USD) and to sentence Rubén Antonio Espinoza, the company's manager and currently a fugitive, to 8 years in prison, as well as to establish suspended sentences against Ernesto Vega Delgado, the head of operations, and Giovanni Cubas Ramírez, the project's field staff.

The case of Tamshiyacu is emblematic in the fight against deforestation in Peru as, for the first time, an environmental crime of this type received criminal sanctions against those responsible.

The decision was appealed by the convicted parties and will be reviewed by the Loreto Appeals Chamber on October 2, 2020.

Despite the abundant evidence validating the conviction, Tamshi S.A.C. and the other convicted parties have challenged the ruling using arguments that seek to confuse the members of the Chamber. In effect, the arguments seek to question the rigour of the economic valuation for the damage generated to the forests, and to mitigate the responsibility of the other natural persons involved in the commission of the crimes under investigation.

The hearing on October 2nd is of great importance for Peruvian environmental justice, since it would allow for the definitive determination of those responsible for the environmental crimes that occurred in Tamshiyacu in 2013.

We, the undersigned, consider that it is fundamental that the decision of the members of the Criminal Court of Appeals of Loreto evaluate the facts in a holistic manner and resolve them according to the law, definitively determining the responsibility of those involved in the commission of these illegal acts.

In addition, we consider that it’s important for the public to be aware of what the case represents in terms of the defense of the Amazon and the struggle to protect natural resources and vulnerable local communities. The indiscriminate development of large-scale agribusinesses, driven by foreign investors with little respect for national regulations, is an economic model that violates both the territorial rights of small communities and the forest itself. We trust that the judiciary will give clear signals about the importance of complying with environmental regulations and not leave unpunished those who represent organized economic powers that systematically violate the law and destroy the Amazon Forest.

Finally, as the exhaustive scientific evidence indicates, the protection of the Amazon is essential to address the climate crisis and the decline of biodiversity worldwide. Therefore, this sentence is not only important for Peru, but for humanity as a whole. Peru must set an example and guarantee environmental and climate justice. The judges of the Superior Court of Loreto have a unique opportunity to do justice for the Amazon Forest and its inhabitants, and thus protect current and future generations.

#JusticeForTamshiyacu

The signatories:

  1. Community leaders from Tamshiyacu and Panguana Zona 1
  2. Committed citizens from Loreto
  3. Amazon Watch
  4. Amazónico por la Amazonía - AMPA
  5. Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana – AIDESEP
  6. Asociación Juvenil Kay Pacha de Loreto
  7. Asociación La Restinga - Loreto
  8. Centro Peruano de Estudios Sociales - CEPES
  9. CEDIA
  10. Centro para la Ecología de las comunidades de la Amazonía - CECAMA
  11. Colectivo proyecto Amazonía – Loreto
  12. La Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
  13. Comité de Defensa del Agua – Loreto
  14. Comité de Gestión de la Reserva Nacional Pacaya Samiria
  15. Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales - DAR
  16. Environmental Investigation Agency – EIA
  17. Espíritu Verde Amazónico – EVA - Loreto
  18. Federación de Comunidades Nativas de Ucayali y Afluyentes – FECONAU
  19. Forest Peoples Programme
  20. Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y la Paz -FEDEPAZ
  21. Instituto de Defensa Legal - IDL
  22. Instituto del Bien Común – IBC
  23. Instituto de Defensa Legal del Ambiente y el Desarrollo Sostenible – IDLADS
  24. International Land Coalition – América Latina (ILC – LAC)
  25. Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú – ONAMIAP
  26. Organización Regional de los Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente – ORPIO
  27. OXFAM en Perú
  28. Paz y Esperanza
  29. Plataforma Nacional de Sociedad Civil sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos
  30. Plataforma para la Gobernanza Responsable de la Tierra
  31. Proética – Capítulo Peruano de Transparency International
  32. Radio la Voz de la Selva del Vicariato Apostólico de Iquitos
  33. Red Interquorum Iquitos
  34. Red Peruana por una Globalización con Equidad – RedGE
  35. Resurgir Amazónico – Loreto
  36. Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental -SPDA
  37. TierrActiva
  38. Yunta de Acción y Restauración Amazónica (YARA)- Loreto