40th FIDH Congress, 2019, Taiwan – Urgent Resolution on Environmental Justice in Vietnam

40th FIDH Congress – 2019 – Taiwan – Urgent Resolution on Environmental Justice in Vietnam
Submitted by: Taiwan Association for Human Rights
FIDH, meeting on the occasion of its 40th Congress in Taipei, Taiwan

Noting that in April 2016, over 300 tons of /sh died in four provinces of the North Central Region of Vietnam: Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue. After investigation, the Vietnam National Assembly Report identified the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Vietnam to be the primary culprit in the pollution incident which caused the disastrous marine pollution by discharging wastewater contained toxic substances such as phenol and cyanide.

Noting that Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation is a2liated with Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) based in Taiwan, a transnational corporation with a history of reckless disregard for the environmental impacts of its activities on the local communities where it operates. The FPG and its international subsidiaries have faced major fines and lawsuits in the United States, notably in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi after discharging poisonous chemicals into the land and underground water.

Recalling that Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation publicly admitted responsibility for the environmental pollution on
June 30, 2016.

Noted that, at the end of June 2016, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation o4ered their apologies and a compensation
settlement of 500 million USD to the government, which has been criticized by many NGOs and civil society actors as
being wholly insu2cient and having largely failed to reach the a4ected population. In addition, the settlement was
reached prior to any comprehensive assessment or evaluation of the damages, and without any transparency or public

Alerted by the Vietnamese authorities’ systematic repressions of the freedom of expression and assembly of the
population, in relation to their grievances about the Formosa Ha Tinh disaster. This systematic silencing of dissent and
criticisms follows a pattern of state repression in Vietnam which has been condemned time and time again by the UN,
including the HRC and the OHCHR, and documented by a range of independent NGOs.
Concerned that Justice for Formosa Victims has gathered testimony and a2davits from dozens of individuals, primarily
in the a4ected regions of Central Vietnam, who experienced and witnessed state crackdowns connected to the
Formosa case. These crackdowns have taken many forms, including targeted violence against peaceful demonstrators,
arbitrary arrests and detention of hundreds of critics and protesters on trumped-up charges, and weaponization of the
judicial system to silence dissenters with long prison sentences.

Concerned that the right to an e4ective remedy has been extensively violated in the Formosa case as fishermen and
other individuals in the a4ected provinces have faced many barriers to obtaining adequate compensation and
reparation for the damages and various rights violations that they have su4ered. The Vietnamese government lacks
the independent and impartial judiciary necessary to make up for these failings, leaving the population with little to no
recourse for the injustices that they face.

Noted that the Vietnamese State has failed to uphold its responsibilities and obligations towards its citizens under
international human rights law (including various treaties and declarations that Vietnam has signed and/or ratified).
The marine pollution has raised not only environmental concerns but also serious concerns of gross violations of
various human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to a clean environment, the right to food, the right
to health, the right to work, the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and the right to information, and finally, the
right to an e4ective remedy.

Recalling that Taiwan government has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 2009 and the Act to Implement the two
Covenants was enacted on December 10, 2009.

Noted that 7,785 Vietnamese victims submitted a transnational lawsuit against Formosa Plastics Group to Taiwan
Taipei District Court on June 11, 2019, seeking justice for the disastrous marine pollution in Vietnam in 2016 and
causing harm and endangering their physical health.

Alerted by the ruling received by the plainti4s’ attorneys on October 14, 2019, from Taiwan Taipei District Court dated
on October 5, 2019, stating that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over this case and therefore rejected the

Note that the plainti4s have decided to appeal to the Taiwan Taipei High Court, which will be /led by October 24,

The FIDH at its 40th Congress, Taipei, Taiwan:

Call on Taiwan Courts to:
– Reconsider the Formosa case and hear the litigation to provide better protection for the interest of the Plainti4s, who
are vulnerable, and ensuring the practice that is more in line with the protection of human rights under international
law. Asserting jurisdiction in this litigation by the court in Taiwan will achieve the equity between the parties, full the
need for a just and impartial judgment, and ensure the speediness of the proceedings and the idea of litigation

Call on the Vietnamese government to:
– Allow for a fully transparent and independent investigation of the Formosa disaster to be conducted by an impartial
and international team of experts, with the mandate to identify and analyze the causes and consequences of the spill,
propose measures to hold those who were responsibly accountable for their actions, as well as to evaluate the total
value of damages and loss, and the total amount of compensation that is warranted and required;
– Immediately and unconditionally release all arbitrarily detained and imprisoned environmental protesters.