14 Apr 2009

French Polynesia nuclear testing victims group says compensation law PR stunt

7:15 am on 14 April 2009

The head of a group representing the victims of nuclear testing in French Polynesia says a law to provide them compensation is a public relations exercise.

France's Minister of Defence recently outlined the main points of a proposed Bill to compensate, for the first time, victims of nuclear testing it conducted both in Algeria and later in French Polynesia, between 1966 and 1996.

The compensation announcement precedes a court hearing in which the French government will answer to charges it failed to protect its French Polynesian workers from nuclear fallout during that time.

But Roland Oldham, the president of Mururoa e Tatou, says the law is dishonest and simply a way of deflecting media attention from the April 27 court date.

"The same people that have made thirty years of nuclear testing in our country, in our islands, are the same people that are going to decide and judge what compensation has to be given to the victims. And I think that's a real problem of democracy."

Roland Oldham is asking for solidarity from all organisations across the Pacific to lobby the French government about the compensation law.