October 7, 2008

Vietnam’s Agent Orange Victims Submit Petition to US Supreme Court

Text of report in English by state-run Vietnamese news agency VNA website

[Unattributed article from the "Politics" page: "Agent Orange victims submit petition to US Supreme Court"]

Hanoi (VNA) - Representatives from the Vietnam Agent Orange/ Dioxin Victims' Association (VAVA) are expected to submit a petition to the US Supreme Court at 11 a.m. on Oct. 6 (11 p.m. Vietnamese time) to request reconsideration of the US Appeal Court's verdict regarding Agent Orange victims' claims against a number of US chemical companies.

At a press briefing on Oct. 6 in Hanoi, Dr Tran Xuan Thu, VAVA Deputy President and General Secretary said the submission of the petition was an important step in accordance with US law. If the petition is accepted, VAVA may then lodge an appeal with the US Supreme Court.

The 41-page petition includes representations demonstrating that verdicts reached by the US Hearing and Appeal Courts were not in accordance with the US's current or past legal procedures.

The petition points out that the verdicts reached by the US Hearing Court and then upheld by the Appeal Court were contentious in that they denied the impact of toxic dioxins sprayed by the US armed forces during the Vietnam war, arguing that the chemicals used were herbicides and were not toxic to humans.

The verdict reached by the US Appeal Court stated that the US did not intend to affect humans when spraying the toxic chemicals and that the resultant dioxin pollution was an unintended consequence of the scattering of these chemicals. VAVA's petition argues that the use of Agent Orange, containing high levels of dioxins violates the international practice forbidding the use of toxic substances against humans.

Following the submission of the petition to the US Supreme Court, a press briefing is scheduled to be held in front of the US Supreme Court in New York under the chairmanship of Jonathan Moore, representative of the lawyers' team representing the petitioner, VAVA; Mike Marceau, Deputy President of US Veterans For Peace and two Vietnamese AO victims, Dang Hong Nhut and Tran Thi Hoan, who have travelled to the US to call for public support for their campaign.

According to lawyer Luu Van Dat, member of VAVA's Executive Board, in the event that the US Supreme Court does not accept the petition, it will still be possible for the Vietnamese AO victims to continue the lawsuit at courts in 11 other areas in the US as the US Supreme Court's rejection is relevant only in area 2, where the petition is to be submitted.

During the 10 years of war in Vietnam between 1961 and 1971, US forces dumped approximately 80 million litres of herbicides onto Vietnamese soil, containing almost 400 kg of dioxins. An estimated 4.8 million people were exposed to the toxic substance with around 3 million of these being sufferers from the effects of AO.

Originally published by VNA news agency website, Hanoi, in English 6 Oct 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.