Earlier this week it was announced that the French government was declared guilty in a court in Paris for wrongful negligence which involves the previous use of a banned pesticide name Kepone in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, however, they refuse to compensate those affected.
The ruling was found between a gap of good and bad for activists and attorneys who shared opposing beliefs that the French government’s authorization to use chlordecone in the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique was illegal as they seek damages for the defendants.
Christophe Leguevaques, one of the attorneys involved in the case, told the AP media, “This decision is a significant step forward in the sense that the fault of the state is recognized.”
“On the negative side, the court does not recognize financial reparations for the victims… . However, West Indians have been exposed and are still exposed to this dangerous product.”
This is identified as the second lawsuit filed against the French government that involves the use of chlordecone in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The first lawsuit, filed back in the year 2006, is still unsettled and pending before the courts and inculpates the French government of failing to identify and limit the effects of chlordecone pollution on both islands and to protect the health of its people. Meanwhile, a Judge in France briefly ceased the court’s proceeding for a period of three months for them to complete thorough research before continuation.
Attorney Harry Durimel told the AP, “We want the court to condemn the persons who put money before health,” as he discloses that officials continue to use chlordecone because they were in competition with banana producers from Latin America.
“They are known. They are ministers, directors, and politicians from Guadeloupe and Martinique. … We want them to go to trial.”
Chlordecone is a pesticide commonly known as Kepone that was banned in the US banned in 1976 by the United States due to the chemical’s ability to cause slurred speech and other neurological problems.
French officials express that they are concerned that it might be connected to high rates of prostate cancer in Guadeloupe and Martinique, and some studies have proposed that the chemical may be linked to premature births. The Stockholm Convention has placed a ban on its production and commercialization since 2004.
The chemical was legally marketed in France between the years of 1981 to 1990 and was used for three more years in Guadeloupe and Martinique to fight the banana weevil under an exemption granted by the French government, which attorneys and activists identified as illegal.
France’s agriculture minister requested that the court discard the lawsuit, saying it was unacceptable, and added that the government had since taken multiple steps to protect its people’s health, including banning fishing in certain areas.
Elie Califer, a legislator who represents Guadeloupe, refers to the recent ruling as a step in the right direction, however, he believes that the victims who suffer from the effect of Chlordecone should receive monetary compensation and insist that the government invests in further cleaning of still-polluted areas, among other things.
“It’s high time that the state, responsible for this serious pollution and accountable for this contamination, take all responsibility,” he noted.
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