Request denied for order to halt nuclear testing

Series Title
Series Details 14/12/95, Volume 1, Number 13
Publication Date 14/12/1995
Content Type

Date: 14/12/1995

By Michael Mann

THE European Commission of Human Rights has rejected a request from 19 French Polynesians for an order to halt the French nuclear testing programme in the South Pacific.

The Strasbourg-based Commission, which acts as a filtering body for cases submitted to the European Court of Human Rights, ruled that “mere suspicion or conjecture” was insufficient proof of a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Commission stressed that it was not its role to decide on the scientific validity of reports presented by the group to demonstrate that their environment was endangered by the tests, particularly as data submitted by the French had apparently shown the opposite.

The group had also claimed that French President Jacques Chirac's government had chosen the Mururoa Atoll as the test site purely because it was more acceptable to public opinion in France.

The French decision to carry out a new programme of nuclear tests brought it into conflict with Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard. But at a special meeting in late October, the Commission pronounced itself satisfied that the tests did not represent a “particularly dangerous experiment”. The European Parliament has pledged to check the data for itself, but has made little progress so far.

France has since promised to end the test programme in February, three months earlier than originally anticipated.

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