Tahiti Protestants take France to court

3:55 pm on 9 August 2016
 There was some protest from within the French Polynesian assembly and members of the community when the territory was proposed as a test site    but it was overruled. Taken 2004

There was some protest from within the French Polynesian assembly and members of the community when the territory was proposed as a test site but it was overruled. Photo: AFP/ Valerie Macon

French Polynesia's Protestant church has decided to take France to the International Criminal Court over the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.

French Polynesia leader Oscar Temaru.

French Polynesia leader Oscar Temaru. Photo: RNZI

The decision was announced at the conclusion of the Maohi Protestant Church Synod in Tahiti.

Its secretary general Celine Hoiore said the case will be filed in The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity as a result of 193 nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.

The action is being taken for all the consequences of the tests, including contempt for the illnesses Polynesians suffer from as a result of the tests she said.

Oscar Temaru, a pro-independence opposition politician, has welcomed the church decision as historic.

The church will also raise its concern with the United Nations (UN) where Mr Temaru has already been campaigning on the matter as part of his decolonisation effort.

50 years after the first nuclear test, and 20 years after the last. The French Polynesia atoll of Mururoa is still largely a no-go zone.

50 years after the first nuclear test, and 20 years after the last. The French Polynesia atoll of Mururoa is still largely a no-go zone. Photo: AFP

In October, the French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch is due to go to the UN as his government is against decolonisation.

He is yet to react to the church decision.

In 2010, France passed a law to compensate victims but the law's scope has been too narrow to allow more than just a handful of people to get recognition and there have been calls to review the law.

Tests not a crime against humanity

French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch in Paris

French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch in Paris Photo: supplied

The French High Commissioner to French Polynesia said the nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific do not amount to a crime against humanity.

Rene Bidal said the definition of a crime against humanity centres on the Nuremburg trials after the Second World War and refers to killings, exterminations, and deportations.

He said the church should weigh its words, adding that a complaint as outlined by the church would be baseless.

Mr Bidal also said the French President announced that the compensation law would be modified in order to be more favourable to those who are ill and a few days ago France proposed a convention to fund new hospital equipment for cancer treatment in Tahiti.

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