Monsanto Tribunal Delivers Legal Opinion: Does Monsanto Abuse Human Rights, Is It Guilty of Ecocide?

  • (L-R) Judges Orellana, Lamm, Shrybman, Tulkens, Dior Fall Sow and Fernandez Souza present the legal opinion on Monsanto

    (L-R) Judges Orellana, Lamm, Shrybman, Tulkens, Dior Fall Sow and Fernandez Souza present the legal opinion on Monsanto’s crimes. | Photo: EFE

Published 18 April 2017 (8 hours 39 minutes ago)
The tribunal found the multinational guilty of a number of environmental and human rights abuses.

The legal findings of a civil society trial on whether Monsanto is guilty of ecocide, subsequently fostering human rights abuses, were delivered in the Hague Tuesday.

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Initial hearings of the international tribunal occurred on October 15 and 16 in 2016 at the Institute of Social Studies, ISS. Over the past months, five internationally renowned judges heard 30 witnesses and experts from five continents speak on the subject.

Monsanto critics claim that the trial, albeit void of legal standing, adds sustenance to the debate on ecocide and how this man-made phenomenon infringes upon our human rights.

On the question of whether Monsanto’s business activities infringe on the right to a clean, sustainable environment, as recognized by international human rights law, the court found the defendant guilty. As outlined in the Summary of the Advisory Opinion of the International Monsanto Tribunal, the court concluded that Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment.

The second question pertained to Monsanto’s infringement on the right to food, which also referenced U.N. articles and conventions upholding the rights of children, the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, and economic, social, and cultural rights. Responding to this inquiry the tribunal found Monsanto guilty. The company’s business activities were found to adversely affect food availability for individuals and communities and interfere with the ability of individuals and communities to feed themselves directly or to choose non-genetically modified seeds.

The tribunal found Monsanto highly negligent in its inquiry into the company’s infringement on the public’s right to high standards of health. To support their conclusion the tribunal emphasized that the company manufactured and distributed many dangerous substances such as PCBs, (persistent organic pollutants), glyphosate (an ingredient which has been classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and widely used in the commercialization of Roundup), and lastly, but certainly not least, GMOs.

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Whether Monsanto infringes on the freedom of scientific research, as well as the freedom of thought and expression, the tribunal concluded that the multinational firm was guilty. Monsanto, in fact, practices forms of intimidation, discredits independent scientific research that supports environmental protection and public health policies, and pressures governments to conform to its business model and policies.

The fifth question concerned Monsanto’s complicity in war crimes during the U.S. War of Aggression Against Vietnam. During this period (1962–1973), over 70 million liters of Agent Orange (containing dioxin) was deposited on roughly 2.6 million hectares of land, causing severe health problems in the Vietnamese civilian population. That chemical also harmed U.S., Australian, New Zealand, and Korean vets resulting in litigation implicating Monsanto’s involvement in the war. However, the tribunal did not give a definitive response to this inquiry, only stating that Monsanto probably knew how its products would be used and had prior knowledge of the product’s health consequences.

On the sixth and final question, the tribunal concluded that if ecocide were recognized as a crime by international criminal law, Monsanto would possibly be found guilty. Having reached this conclusion the court assessed that the crime of ecocide should be precisely and clearly defined and asserted by international criminal law.

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In Kashmir, Students Protest Despite University Shutdown

  • Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, the current Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

    Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, the current Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 April 2017 (3 hours 8 minutes ago)
Amid rising tension, the clashes between protesters and the Indian military forces continue to brew in conflict-ridden Kashmir.

After violent clashes in Kashmir over the weekend, state university and colleges across the region will remain shut for at least two days, according to Indian government sources.

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Amid rising tension, the clashes between protesters and the Indian military forces continue to brew in the conflict-ridden area. Despite the closure of the educational institutes in the region, the All Jammu and Kashmir Students Union told the Indian Express Tuesday that they will continue with their protests.

“AJKSU today held peaceful protests in many places including Kashmir University (KU) and Banihal (on Srinagar-Jammu national highway) … AJKSU is going to hold peaceful protests in the coming days as well until the genuine demands of the students are not fulfilled,” said the union statement.

According to Kashmiri Reader, hundreds of students in universities, colleges and higher secondary schools held massive protests today, with women students at Kashmir University, chanting pro-freedom slogans and demanding action against police brutality. But the students were not allowed to exit the campus residence.

Iqra Sidiq, a student at the local woman’s college was in critical condition after her skull was cracked opened when she was hit on the head by an alleged Central Reserve Police Force trooper, Kashmir Reader reported.

“We were walking peacefully until police came and asked us to continue peacefully as we were just girls in the procession. Suddenly a big stone came from the top of the CRPF camp which hit her on the head,” a student told the Kashmir Reader.

Javid Ahmad, a relative of the injured girl said Sidiq was part of a small group of girls who were protesting peacefully when the stone was thrown injuring her critically. “We saw the procession. It was small and there were just girls in it. How can the government troops use force on them? What can we do now, she is critical,” he told the Kashmir Reader.

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Over 50 students were injured during the clashes lasting over five days, the Kashmiri Reader reported. According to a local hospital, seven injured youth were admitted Monday, including Sidiq. Three of them were injured by pellets, two in the eye and one in the back, another was injured by a teargas shell in the foot and some received stone injuries like Sidiq.

The deployment of Indian troops in the region continues to cause resentment and Kashmiri rebels have openly expressed an interest in the region’s independence or an alliance with Pakistan since the early 1990s.

The Kashmir conflict is at the heart of tension between India and Pakistan. So far, two out of three wars the two neighboring countries have fought since their independence in 1947 have been over Kashmir. India continues to accuse Pakistan of training and arming rebel groups in the region to gain control, while Pakistan has continued to deny the claim.

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US Has Given Green Light for Coup in Venezuela: Maduro

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 April 2017
According to the Bolivarian leader, the U.S. government wrote up a coup scenario for opposition leader Julio Borges.

A day before opposition leaders convened more protests in Caracas calling for the ouster of Venezuela’s government, the country’s leader has accused the United States of working with right-wing leaders towards a coup.

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“The U.S. government, the State Department has given the green light, the approval for a coup process to intervene in Venezuela,” President Nicolas Maduro said, speaking from the Miraflores Palace.

Maduro said that security forces had arrested an “armed commando group sent by the opposition in order to attack the mobilization called by the right-wing for Wednesday to generate violence and deaths in the country.” An investigation has been opened to determine those behind the plan.

According to the Venezuelan leader, who also pointed to a U.S. State Department statement issued Tuesday evening, warning of an “international response” should “peaceful protests” face repression, the U.S. government wrote up a coup scenario for opposition leader Julio Borges.

The “scenario” Maduro referred to consists in generating violence and deaths before blaming the Venezuelan government for allegedly violently attacking political opponents. Then the plot leaders would demand immediate elections, ahead of Maduro’s official end of term in 2019.

“No more coups in Venezuela, no more plots,” said Maduro, adding that he activated a public security plan to maintain order.

The Venezuelan leader also called on government supporters to take the streets in the defense of the 18-year Bolivarian Revolution, which has seen an unprecedented internal and external attack in recent months.

The demonstrations come after weeks of opposition-led anti-government demonstrations calling for the ouster of the country’s Supreme Court judges as well as President Nicolas Maduro. According to reports, among those killed in the ensuing violence include a 13-year-old boy who was shot Wednesday when opposition protesters entered a social housing complex and an 83-year-old woman who was not able to receive medical attention due to opposition roadblocks.

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Opposition protesters have vandalized various areas in Caracas in recent days causing economic damage estimated at around 50 billion bolivars, President Maduro announced Sunday. A high school, a community health center, various subsidized food markets and several government ministries have also reportedly been severely affected.

The opposition MUD alliance has called for a “Mega March” protest in Caracas on Wednesday and estimate a large turnout with promotions flooding social media.

Officials fear that there could be violence should they attempt to redirect marches to areas where pro-government demonstrators will be gathered.

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