US chemical companies asked to hold accountability for consequences of toxic chemicals sprayed in Vi

(VOVWORLD) - On May 10, 2021, the Crown Court of the city of Evry in France rejected Tran To Nga’s lawsuit against 14 US chemical companies, including Monsanto and Dow Chemical for supplying Agent/Orange dioxin to the US army to use in the war in Vietnam. The international community condemned the ruling and voiced their support for Tran To Nga’s lawsuit in the interest of for justice for Vietnamese Agent Orange/dioxin victims.

US chemical companies asked to hold accountability for consequences of toxic chemicals sprayed in Vi - ảnh 1Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) carries a story about Tran To Nga's lawsuit (Photo: Manh Hung /VNA) 

The AFP news agency reported that the court in the Paris suburb of Evry ruled that it did not have jurisdiction in a case involving the wartime actions of the US government.

Dismissing the case, the court backed the companies' contention that they were acting "on the orders" of the US government, which was engaged in a "sovereign act", according to AFP.

Lawyers William Bourdon, Amélie Lefebvre and Bertrand Repolt of the Bourdon & Associates law firm, said the court was applying an obsolete definition of the immunity of jurisdiction principle which contradicts modern principles of law.

They said they were surprised that the court accepted that the companies had acted under the constraint of the US government even though they had answered a call for tenders, which they were free to do or not. 

More seriously, the US government did not force the production of products containing a high dioxin concentration such as Agent Orange. That came from the policy of the chemical companies themselves, the lawyers said.

US chemical companies asked to hold accountability for consequences of toxic chemicals sprayed in Vi - ảnh 2Ms Tran To Nga (Right) (Photo: Linh Huong/VNA correspondent in France) 

The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) said it will provide moral and financial support to Tran To Nga to continue her lawsuit against US firms that manufactured the toxic AO defoliant used by US forces during the war in Vietnam.

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, President of VAVA, said he is not satisfied with the court’s ruling, saying it is not persuasive considering that the US firms manufactured about 80 million litres of the AO defoliant for US forces to spray in Southern Vietnam, causing serious environmental and human health consequences.

He said VAVA backs Nga’s viewpoint and will provide both spiritual and material support for the Vietnamese-French woman to continue pursuing the lawsuit.

The German Communist Party (DKP) on May 10 issued a statement expressing its support for the lawsuit lodged by the Vietnamese-French woman Tran To Nga and other Vietnamese Agent Orange/dioxin victims against 14 multinational chemical companies.

US chemical companies asked to hold accountability for consequences of toxic chemicals sprayed in Vi - ảnh 3A court on Tran To Nga's lawsuit (Photo: VNA) 

This ruling has once again ignored millions of Vietnamese who are suffering from serious consequences caused by the chemical war waged by the US troops in Vietnam, it said, adding that it will continue bringing to light the culprits behind the suffering of Vietnamese victims.

An article posted by the Junge Welt newspaper on May 11 said the US military sprayed more than 80 million liters of toxic chemicals across the south of Vietnam to destroy forests which were sheltering soldiers fighting for Vietnam’s independence. The chemicals also destroyed the crops of Vietnamese farmers, and caused horrible health problems for more than 4 million Vietnamese people. The article noted that while it refuses to compensate victims in Vietnam, the US has paid compensation to US veterans exposed to AO/dioxin during the war.

The DW also ran an in-depth story about the lawsuit and the Evry court’s ruling.

Other newspapers, such as Der Spiegel and Focus, also ran stories about Nga’s fight for justice, suggesting that if she had not taken her case to court, the tragedy of other victims would forever be buried in the past.

Tran To Nga’s lawsuit is an historic case. So far, she is the only person eligible to file such a lawsuit because she is a French citizen, lives in the only country where citizens can sue foreign entities or individuals for a crime committed outside the country, and is an Agent Orange/dioxin victim.

In 2009, the US Supreme Court rejected a petition from the Vietnam Association of Vietnamese Agent Orange/dioxin victims against 37 US chemical companies. Following the May 10th ruling of the Evry Court, Nga submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court. Nga says she and her legal team will continue to pursue the lawsuit.