Tribunal renders judgement against U.S. government and chemical companies – Hears testimony of U.S. Veteran and Vietnamese Agent Orange victims

On May 18, 2009, an international tribunal, sitting in Paris, ruled that the United States government and corporate manufacturers of Agent Orange are liable and responsible for the spraying of the dioxin laden chemical on the people and land of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The judges decided that “the use of Dioxin was a war crime because it was a poisoned weapon outlawed both in customary international law and by the Hague Convention of 1907″ and ” that that the use of Dioxin was a crime against humanity as defined by VI c of the Nuremberg Principles. ”

The Tribunal held that, because the use of Agent Orange was illegal under international law and its use ” produced so much pain, suffering and anguish to at least 3 to 4 million people and their families… [that] the effects of these crimes will be felt for generations to come… the time has come to provide an adequate remedy to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange and their families and to repair as much as possible the environment of Vietnam.”

The judges ordered the U.S. government and chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange to fully compensate to compensate the victims and their families and to clean up the environmental contamination in and around dioxin laden “hot spots” in Vietnam.

American veteran Frank Corcoran, who served in Vietnam and later contracted cancer acknowledged by the Veterans Administration to be related to Agent Orange, testified that, while he received 100% disability for his illness, ” the US is denying the Vietnamese people the same justice.” Rena Kopystenski whose Vietnam veteran husband, John, died a year ago and whose son and grandson suffer from the effects of John’s exposure to Agent Orange testified that when she looks at photos showing Agent Orange’s terrible impact on the children of Vietnam she realizes that, “while the chemical companies maimed and destroyed a selected segment of the American population, it has totally devastated an entire population and future populations of the country of Vietnam.” She concluded, “with the death of my husband comes a new dedication to force answers, treatment and compensation for those who have been left to relive the War in Vietnam.”

The panel of international judges included Jitendra Sharma, President of the IADL and Supreme Court lawyer, India, Claudia Morcom, judge, Michigan and Juan Guzman, Judge, Chile, the judge who tried Augusto Pinochet. The judges heard testimony about the personal impact of Agent Orange from Vietnamese, U.S. and South Korean victims and from renowned scientists from May 15-16th.