Tribunal indicts six firms for violating people’s rights

Deccan Chronicle December 07, 2011

Bangalore: The four-day-long (December 3-6) Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) on Agrochemical Transnational Corporations has indicted six big international agro-chemical companies for poisoning, violation of the right to health, life, food, livelihood, civil and political rights and violation of women’s and children’s rights.

The PPT on Agrochemical TNCs is organised by Pesticide Action Network International, a global network of more than 600 organisations in over 90 countries which has been working to eliminate the use of pesticides and other hazardous technologies. PPT has urged the international community to act tough on these erring companies. The verdict came after hearing 19 witnesses, four technical witnesses and 15 survivors of various agro-chemical disasters worldwide.

Testimonies came from victims of pesticide poisoning, scientists, and health experts. The testimonies strongly pinpointed the culpability of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow Chemical, and DuPont in cases that range from poisoning of the Arctic region to the death of bees, and illnesses and even death of workers using certain pesticides.

PPT prosecutor Mr Jobert Pahilga, stated that the testimonies of the witnesses clearly show that these Big Six companies are guilty of gross, systematic, and widespread violations of human rights, both by what they have done and what they have failed to do. They are guilty of wilfully manufacturing and selling products that have harmed humans and the environment, of manipulating science and the truth, and of violating the sovereign right of peoples.

“They are guilty of evading responsibility for their crimes and denying victims proper redress,” he added. Jury chairman Upendra Baxi stated that corporations have replaced responsibility with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. They are accountable only to their shareholders. “People shouldn’t be considered merely as factors of production or as disposable. Dignity is the key issue,” he stated. Juror Elmar Altvater said that pesticide poisoning has been deregulated under neo-liberal globalisation. “Their practices have led to the financial crisis world wide,” he added.