Last Chance Of Justice For Nuclear Veterans
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 fallout.
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 ago.
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 justice.