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(en) France, UCL AL #314 - Ecology, Agent Orange: Tran To Nga, a woman against 14 multinationals (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 28 Apr 2021 08:42:23 +0300

A historic trial took place on January 25, pitting activist Tran To Nga against 14 multinationals that produced the infamous "Agent Orange", sprayed by the United States during the Vietnam War, with dramatic health consequences for the population. The judgment is expected in May: a victory would be a historic step forward. ---- On January 25, the so-called Agent Orange trial opened in Évry, this herbicide spilled by the United States during the Vietnam War (and more particularly between 1964 and 1975), contaminating this territory but also Laos le Cambodia. More than 80 million liters were released in the forests where the guerrillas of the National Liberation Front were hiding and where many civilians also lived.

This toxic product is at the origin of many diseases (cancers, mental pathologies) and malformations, documented for a long time, which affected not only the people directly exposed during the war, but also their children born sometimes years after the end of the war. war. Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese were victims and two million hectares of land were contaminated according to the Stellman report published in 2003.

Tran To Nga, a veteran herself contaminated with Agent Orange, has decided to initiate civil proceedings by suing 14 transnational agrochemical companies including Monsanto and Dow Chemical, which produced Agent Orange for the United States Army. This trial was made possible by a change in the law that took place in 2013: since that date, it has been possible for a person of French nationality to initiate proceedings for acts that took place outside French territory and committed by a third party (legal or natural person) having another nationality.

Tran To Nga thus lodged a complaint in 2014 but since that date the trial has continued to be postponed. The hearing which finally took place on January 25 followed six years of written proceedings.

A trial postponed since 2014
Until now, these companies have never been convicted, which is to say the importance of this trial. Vietnamese victims' associations have lodged a complaint in the United States, but the American justice system has always given success to the capitalist firms. For the latter, only the US government can be held responsible, as companies were required to participate in the war effort or face punishment. They also dispute the link between Agent Orange and the diseases from which many Vietnamese men and women suffer. In addition, they challenge the jurisdiction of the French courts to judge these facts.

On the other hand, Tran To Nga and its lawyers believe that the 14 multinationals have a strong responsibility, in particular by not having informed the American authorities of the real toxicity of Agent Orange. A victory for Tran To Nga would pave the way for compensation for other victims, and would represent a historic breakthrough. The judgment is reserved for May 10.

Laurent Esquerre (UCL Aveyron)

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