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Fukuashima, Court case at the Hague ? Bad idea !

Dear Reader,

I have seen a suggestion that the Fukushima event should be the subject of a court case at the International Criminal Court (ICC). One blogger suggests that the utility company (TEPCO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) and the regulatory body (I assume that this is the Japanese governmental authority which regulates the use of nuclear technology) should all be the subject of a court case at the ICC.

I hold a view that such a ICC court case is a bad idea.

Firstly the ICC is there to deal with crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. A nuclear accident such as Fukuashima is not the result of a human making a choice to commit a serious crime of violence, the worst criminal charge which I think could result from an industrial accident is manslaughter. I think that manslaughter in the form of an industrial accident is not a crime which the ICC should attempt to deal with.

Here is an example of a hypothetical industrial accident.

If I was to operate a glue factory in a careless way, and was to tie a big vat of glue to a truck using string because I was too lazy to get a proper rope, chain or other fitting. If then while driving down the road with my big vat of glue I was to accidentally drop it and crush a car (plus driver) then I would be guilty of manslaughter not murder. I hold the view that to be guilty of murder I would need to deliberately choose to kill people with the vat of glue. It would be murder if I was to throw a person into the vat and drown them, but that requires me to make the choice to harm someone.

Secondly for TEPCO a legal system already exists in Japan which can deal with any criminal matters.

In the interests of fairness it is not appropriate for me (a single blogger in europe) to sit in judgement regarding the question of “has TEPCO committed any crimes ?”. I think that any attempt for any person to put TEPCO on trial in a mock court on the internet, to pass judgement in a newspaper or to do anything to usurp the legal system is itself a crime. This time it would be a crime against the Japanese people and the Japanese legal system. I strongly urge all other members of the public to refrain from setting themselves up as judge and Jury on this contraversal subject. I think that a real court, with real lawyers, real judges and other real officers of the court should deal with this matter.

Thirdly many of the court cases which may result from the nuclear accident are civil cases, the ICC is a criminal court. I think that the civil cases will mainly be cases brought by one Japanese person (or company) against another Japanese person / company. Such cases are best handled by a Japanese court.

For the post of the person suggesting the use of the ICC please see the following link.

http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/the-iaea-who-and-tepco-should-be-a-case-for-the-international-criminal-courts/

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3 Responses

  1. How is it criminal to have an opinion that TEPCO be taken to court? What if the Japanese legal system is not using it’s power to prosecute TEPCO appropriately because of it’s ties to the corporation?
    Additionally, because of the deceit, amount of worldwide contamination, and disregard for human safety en masse, should TEPCO be held accountable on a larger scale than just Japanese courts? A large amount of radioactive particles has poisoned people on the west coast of the US. And again, the number of people that have ingested radioactive ‘hot particles’ within Japan, due to undeniable neglect and subterfuge on behalf of TEPCO, has yet to be addressed directly by the Japanese government and their legal bodies.
    There needs to be proper recourse, and if the Japanese don’t do it, who will?
    -American in Tokyo

  2. Dr Foreman replies on the subject of mock criminal court cases against TEPCO

    While it is not criminal to hold the view that TEPCO should be brought before the ICC or even hold even more outlandish views, to hold a mock criminal trial of TEPCO for crimes against humanity or the Japanese people may well be a crime against the Japanese legal system.

    It does not matter if the mock trial is on the internet, in a school, a nightclub or even on the moon. If a real criminal court has not already reached a final answer on what to do with TEPCO and its staff then such a mock trial would be doing something which would deny TEPCO (and its officers) a fair trial. However much TEPCO and its senior management may have irked you they should still have a right to a fair trial.

  3. Dr Foreman replies on the subject of civil court cases regarding the Japanese nuclear reactor accident.

    I would suggest that anyone who holds the view that they have suffered an injury as a result of the reactor accident should contact TEPCO and ask for compensation. If TEPCO do not offer them compensation which they think is reasonable then if they want then they could try to sue. I am not an expert on the question of which court to sue in if the person with the radiological injury lives outside Japan so I can not offer the type of legal advice which a lawyer can offer.

    However my own view is that a person who developes a medical condition which could be related to their radiation exposure from the accident should be treated in a similar way to a UK nuclear worker who gets cancer is treated in the UK.

    I would consider fine tuning the scheme so that the lower causation probability of 20 % in the scheme is lowered to 10 % for those of the general public who were exposed to the radioactivity associated with the accident.

    Also rather than big steps then compensation payout should be on a sliding scale.

    For example if a person gets thyroid cancer and from their iodine dose it appears that the accident had a 15% chance of having caused their cancer. Then TEPCO should pay out 15% of the sum which would be paid to a person who can prove in court that their cancer was caused by the accident.

    For details of the scheme see

    http://www.csrld.org.uk/html/scheme_history.php

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