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On air: Do victims have any real power over corporations?

Krupa Thakrar Padhy Krupa Thakrar Padhy | 10:59 UK time, Monday, 7 June 2010

bhopal.jpgIt's been over 25 years since the Bhopal industrial disaster.

The tragedy killed thousands immediately, left hundreds of thousands with permanent injuries and unborn generations with serious health effects. Thousands more are no longer alive to see justice served. If it has been served.

Today the Indian court in Bhopal convicted eight people for death by negligence. They now face up to two years in jail.

For survivors and their relatives, the verdict comes too little, too late. The National Human Rights Commission agrees. Some victims are simply calling for one thing - capital punishment.

Do victims have any real power against corporate negligence?

For many, Warren Anderson is the one who got away.

Now almost 90 years old, Warren was the Chairman and CEO of Union Carbide when the lethal chemical leaked from a pesticide plant. The US have long refused his extradition. OneIndia writes,

'The failure of the Indian agencies and authorities to bring Anderson to justice and ultimately let him go without even facing a trial looks as if India is bending backwards to keep its ties with United States from turning unsavoury.'

The case proves one thing according to the Wall Street Journal Blog,

'Whatever the Bhopal District Court's verdict on the conduct of the Indian officials in the criminal case, many Indians will continue to see the Union Carbide case as an object lesson in how powerful American companies have the upper hand in their dealings in developing countries. And now a few American firms are facing the fallout of what happened in Bhopal that day.'

With the ongoing BP oil spill, many are speaking of lessons learnt,

In 1984, more than 15 000 people were killed by a company. Today, some 25 years later, a few people have been found guilty of "criminal negligence"...The case speaks of global inequality, unfair wages, dangerous conditions, criminal negligence by corporations and environmental destruction without any justice.
Today, BP and other global corporations demonstrate the same lawlessness. It is time for global corporate law and justice.

This blogger is not surprised the verdict has taken so long,

'...when it's for an industrial disaster the magnitude of Bhopal's, it's only natural, because the government of India is involved...While the government and industry fought over who the onus lies on, how much was enough compensation and how the same would be disbursed, the victims continued to suffer and have not been duly compensated for till date. Demands for rehabilitation and medical care fell on deaf ears as did a review of their problems.The Bhopal gas tragedy has turned out to be a study in contrast between humanity and human rights.'

Ancitta in Chennai emailed the BBC to say that justice has been denied because it has been delayed. Do you agree?

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