French Polynesia goes to UN over nuclear compensation

4:29 pm on 29 June 2016

A legislator from French Polynesia has appeared at the United Nations pressing the territory's case for compensation over nuclear testing.

Photo taken 06 June 2000 of part of the atoll of Mururoa, four years after the cessation of French nuclear testing. Almost all the installations that sheltered up to 3,000 people for 30 years have been dismantled , giving the natural vegetation a chance to grow again.

Photo taken 06 June 2000 of part of the atoll of Mururoa, four years after the cessation of French nuclear testing. Almost all the installations that sheltered up to 3,000 people for 30 years have been dismantled , giving the natural vegetation a chance to grow again. Photo: ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP

Richard Tuheiava appeared before the UN Committee on Decolonisation, in an effort to bring the issue to international attention.

The French Government has compensated just a handful of French Polynesians who suffered from exposure to radiation after thirty years of tests in the territory's vicinity.

Mr Tuheiava said France should compensate the territory as well as individuals.

"The fact is since the nuclear testing most of the diseases were cancer, leukaemia. Most of the diseases were as a result of the nuclear testing, so we collectively also put a request for the state of France, the colonial power to not only compensate directly the veterans, but also compensate this fund, this public health care fund."

Richard Tuheiava said he has serious doubts about whether anything will come from the negotiations, but at least the truth is being exposed on a global stage.

Earlier this year during a visit to the territory, the French president Francois Hollande acknowledged that the weapons tests had an environmental impact with consequences for people's health.

He promised to revisit the way compensation claims are being treated.