The International People’s Tribunal of Conscience in Paris made its final judgment on May 18, concluding that the use of dioxin by the US military in Vietnam from 1961 and 1971 was a war crime against humanity.
|Judges give speech at the court|
After examining evidence and the testimonies of 27 victims and experts, the tribunal found that the US Government and chemical manufacturers were well aware of the fact that dioxin is one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man, causing prolonged serious consequences not only to humans and the environment but also to the Vietnamese economy.
The tribunal concluded that the US Government is guilty of using dioxin and damaging the environment, defined as “ecocide”. The chemical companies are also guilty of collusion with the US Government’s actions.
The tribunal asked the US Government, and the chemical companies who manufactured and supplied AO, to fully compensate the AO victims and their families. The tribunal also demanded they restore the environment to what it was before the war and eradicate any dioxin from Vietnam and its waters, especially hot spots around former US military bases.
To carry out the verdict, the tribunal recommended that a Commission on AO be established to assess the amount of compensation to be allocated to each victim, family and community.
The AO Commission will have to determine the amount needed to provide specialized medical facilities, rehabilitation and other therapeutic services to treat the victims and their families.
It will also estimate the cost of studying the contaminated areas and the future cost of restoring the environment. On top of this the Vietnamese State should be compensated for the cost of supporting the victims and cleaning up the environment.
The tribunal suggested that the commission be comprised of people of eminence in the fields of medicine, science, law, epidemiology, agriculture, ecology and representatives of civil society and to submit their recommendations within one year of its creation.
The requisite amounts defined by the commission shall be paid by the US Government and chemical companies into a trust fund set up for the victims and their families, which would also pay for the restoration of the environment.
Over 1.13 billion Euros (1.52 billion USD) a year is currently being paid by the US Government to US Vietnam veteran victims of AO and this figure could be employed as a guide for the AO Commission’s calculations.
The tribunal’s final judgment will be sent to Vietnam’s State President Nguyen Minh Triet, US President Barak Obama, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, and the Human Rights Committee.
Answering correspondents’ queries at a press conference after the tribunal, judges said that the tribunal was not only aimed at supporting AO/dioxin victims but also condemned the use of chemical weapons that are in use in conflicts around the world.