7 June 2010
First convictions for 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal too little, too late
Following convictions on Monday of seven Indian citizens for the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak disaster, Amnesty International has called on the Indian and US governments to take the next step by bringing the US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) to justice.
Seven Indian nationals, who formerly worked for the Indian company Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), were found guilty by the Bhopal Court of causing death by negligence, a charge that carries a maximum two year sentence.
“These are historic convictions, but it is too little, too late. Twenty-five years is an unacceptable length of time for the survivors of the disaster and families of the dead to have waited for a criminal trial to reach a conclusion,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
Five years after Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, the suffering continues. In New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast, there is a continued lack of access to housing and health care, and issues related to the criminal justice system persist. Communities displaced by the storms remain unable to rebuild and return to their homes.
Amnesty International released a new report, Un-Natural Disaster which documents the failure of local, state, and federal governments to protect the rights of poor and minority Gulf Coast residents in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The report makes specific proposals to improve federal response when a significant percent of a population is displaced, and to protect the rights of displaced people to access education, health care, housing, food, vocational training, and other public services.
Amnesty International is calling on the US Senate to amend the Stafford Act, a legislation that governs federal disaster response but fails to live up to the human rights standards outlined in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The Stafford Act must be strengthened to guarantee the rights of all people displaced by disasters.
Take action to urge Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to introduce legislation to reform the Stafford Act.
Submitted by Dan Johnson, AIUSA Legislative Coordinator for Oregon
(adapted from Amnesty International USA Issue Brief, No. 3, February 2010)
Over half a million women die each year from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth. The vast majority of maternal deaths occur in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Among industrialized nations, however, the United States has the highest lifetime risk of maternal death, second only to Estonia. While the United States spends more than any other country on health care, it ranks 41st in lifetime risk of maternal death out of 171 other countries included in a 2005 World Health Organization study. Since maternal mortality is considered one of the best indicators of the overall public health of a nation, this is of major concern.
25 years ago, Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India leaked extremely toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) into the surrounding city, exposing almost a million people and killing 8-10 thousands in the initial three days. For the last 25 years, Bhopal survivors have sought clean-up, compensation and accountability from Union Carbide to little or no avail. Amnesty International Group 48 and the Association for India’s Development have come together to raise awareness for the initial gas leak and the subsequent 25 years of injustice, and to inspire our community to take an active stance against this tragedy. Please join us in taking a stand.
Date: Thursday, December 3, 2009
Location: US Bank Room, Central Library, 801 SW 10th Avenue, Portland, OR
Download event flyer.
For more information, contact Janie Whitlock at 503-969-7240.
Shortly before midnight on 2 December 1984, thousands of tonnes of deadly chemicals leaked from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, central India. Around half a million people were exposed. Between 7,000 and 10,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and a further 15,000 over the next 20 years.
On 2 December 2009, the people of Bhopal will mark the 25th anniversary of the devastating leak. Amnesty International will act in solidarity with the people of Bhopal to highlight the ongoing human rights impacts of the 1984 leak.