An appeal to the Australian Human Rights Commission by
Australian military veterans arising from Britain's nuclear
bomb tests in the Outback is gaining momentum.
Lodged by Stacks human rights lawyer Joshua Dale representing
several hundred nuclear veterans, the appeal asks the commission to
find the government of the 1950s and 60s breached their human
rights by ordering them to be exposed to deadly radioactive
Since the appeal was lodged in February there has been an
upswell of support from politicians on all sides of politics to
finally do the right thing by the veterans. The commission itself
has asked for more information, which is a hopeful sign.
Dale's appeal argues the decision by the Menzies government
in the 1950s to host Britain's nuclear tests on Australian soil
and order Australians to be used as virtual guinea pigs breached
three articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Australia signed the Declaration at the United Nations in 1948.
Dale argues the decision to send servicemen into radioactive clouds
breached the right to life, liberty and security, the right not to
be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment, and a right to health and well-being including medical
care and social services.
The AHRC can't force the government to do anything. But
there's hope that a finding the veterans' human rights were
breached by the Menzies government would embarrass today's
government into doing the right thing and finally provide proper
medical care and compensation.
Dale concedes it's a long shot. Stacks has been fighting for
the veterans for years trying to get them some sort of compensation
for the wrongs done to them, but court action has been exhausted.
The UK courts said any health problems in veterans today could not
be proved to have been caused by the nuclear tests 50 - 60 years
Sadly the impact of the nuclear tests on the health of the
veterans and their families has been ongoing.
"The nuclear veterans have suffered higher death rates,
higher cancer rates and worse health problems than the general
population," Dale said.
"The ramifications of the nuclear tests are still going on
today. Many effects of radiation are hereditary, and children and
grandchildren of the nuclear veterans have been afflicted with
health problems and deformities."
A 1985 Royal Commission into the nuclear tests found there had
been a shameful cover up of what was done to the military men, but
successive governments since then have turned their backs on the
veterans and ignored their pleas for assistance.
We hope this last chance appeal by Stacks will finally deliver
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