International Litigation: Disease, Deceptions, and Decoders

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Coronavirus – DC Archives

 

The Coronavirus scourge as an infectious disease is a serious humanitarian issue. It incapacitates lives, and debilitate economies of more than 185 nations. Moreover, many citizens around the world have become fearful, distressed, confused, and the disease affected millions of people’s constitutional rights. Researchers and scientists are still fighting for the understanding of the disease, and many have yet to have definite answers and solutions.

There are calls in the Western Hemisphere that the governments wanted answers from the Chinese government. The calls for inquiries and investigations come after when the US found that a laboratory in Wuhan has serious safety issues. The P4 Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was co-founded together with the French scientists and entrepreneurs. Later and upon discovering significant safety and security integrity issues, the French decided to abandon the project. The French complained about how an accreditated ‘P4’ laboratory maintained and handled the scientific activities. Health authorities in the West have also noted that the virus can hardly be a virus that’s too convenient and coincidental coming from a wet market in Wuhan. They indicated that the genomes of the virus have been transposed and mutated through different strands and stages from several animals in particular bats from the Southwest West region of China. Hence, they believed that faulty methodologies could have let the virus escaped out of the secured P4 laboratory.

These calls that come in from various governments in the West did not only wanted truths but compensations as well. When the MH370 on its way to Beijing disappeared, and still no answers to its resolved, the Chinese have been adamant wanting answers, truths, and compensations. Now the world community on this virus also wanted facts, answers, and compensations from this negligence arising from Wuhan.

In the US, an NGO founder of the Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, Larry Klayman, has initiated a class-action lawsuit against the Chinese on seeking compensation amounting to US $20tn (20 trillion dollars) and truth. Freedom Watch’s actions are formidable; however, its actions are only self-justification. It’s pointless to bring to sense the Chinese governmental actions in this manner (Quinn, 19/03/2020,

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-lawyer-larry-klayman-sues-chinese-government-over-outbreak/
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/judicial-watch-freedom-watch-larry-klayman-lawsuit-china-covid-19-coronavirus-bioweapon-wuhan-lab)

In India, a lawyer in Mumbai, Ashish Sohani, is suing China for US $2.3tn (2.3 trillion dollars). At the International Criminal Court of Justice, he also made his case that the Chinese actions of “downplaying the contagion was treason against humanity.”

(Khandekar, 22/04/2020; https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/why-this-mumbai-lawyer-sued-china-for-2-3tn-over-the-coronavirus-outbreak-11587527832779.html).

The International Council of Jurists (ICJ) and the All India Bar Association (AIBA) have also filed a complaint in the United Nations Human Rights Council in seeking unspecified amounts of reparations over the spread of the Coronavirus. AIBA and ICJ president, Adish C. Aggarwala also filed a petition accusing China of inaction and spreading the virus worldwide and alleging that the country violated International Health Regulations, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Laws, and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) clauses (Business Today, 04/04/2020;

https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/icj-aiba-move-unhrc-against-china-over-coronavirus-outbreak/story/400139.html)

There are ways to justify this negligence treachery, and only with a total voice of reason and dissatisfaction, perhaps this can bring the Chinese to bear the consequences. That is, their impulsive negligence and a short-cut to power and greed is their downfall. So, what sort of remedy is available in international legal inquiries? (I) Global mass torts actions and reparations; and (II) Sanctions from the international community.

 

I.     International Mass Torts Actions

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International Court of Justice

Mass torts are civil legal actions brought against a party or parties that have caused pain, injury, suffering, sickness, grievance, emotional, and distress. In laymen terms, we called it suits, suing another party, or civil legal actions. It is not criminal in context because the parties are mostly private, and the law is not from regulation or policy formulated by the government into law.  So mass torts are engaged by numerous stakeholders bringing legal actions against an organization or organizations in seeking or justifying truths and compensations or reparations. The ultimate decision is a heavily compensated amount, or it could be a reparation in kind. Reparations can be trying to ensure that the individual is being treated or at times, a humble apology. Today, society is more satisfied with the justifications of truths, a humble apology, and the correction by the parties that perpetuate the errors, misjudgment, assault, and injuries.

 

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The site of a memorial in Bhopal, India, DC Archives

 

International mass torts have not been much of a prominence other than cases brought against respective parties in issues on torture and human rights abuses in the United States.  However, one mass international tort litigation that stands out is the 1984 case, Bhopal disaster arising from the poisonous chemicals that escaped from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. The Union Carbide Bhopal case is about severe negligence on the part of the plant authorities and managers. The executives of Union Carbide tried their best to cover up as well. Still, the resulting of the disaster created the deaths of some 1,700 Indian citizens and injuring some 200,000 Bhopal residents that resided close to the leakage.  This lawsuit is one of its kind because foreign nationals can bring legal actions against an American firm and obtain compensation and justifying the truths about their negligence and lackadaisical attributes in operating the factory. Even though the last of the compensations and reparations lasted till 2011, many Indians have acknowledged that the compensations are not the issue for their contentions, but they were insistent because Union Carbide was a large corporation and they kept insisting that their negligence was not their part.

 

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Wuhan Institute of Virology, DC Archives

 

Legal firms with worldwide reach should network with the 180 plus countries to formulate a civil legal action plan against the Chinese government and the Wuhan Institute of Virology for being negligent and releasing the virus that affected people’s health, wealth, and the countries’ economy.

The purpose of this international mass tort for the Coronavirus is not to address the importance bonum fidei, intentio legis, which is good faith intention in law. It is to validate whether the Chinese actions are in good faith under the law. Furthermore, whether their actions erred in misconduct or negligence.

To prove good faith intentions in law, the Chinese are required to adhere to three tests under Bhopal:

(A)    The Astute of Strict Liability – The early English case Fletcher v Rylands described that in some instances a person might be held liable for any injury which he has caused, even though he has committed no moral wrongdoing nor departed in any way from a reasonable standard of care. In strict liability, liability is often found for an injury caused by the defendant’s unusual and abnormal activities in the community. The Coronavirus coming from the laboratory is either careless, negligence or could have purposely released because of work conflicts or dissatisfactions at the laboratory.

(B)    Domestic Courts as Jurisdictional Authority – The Coronavirus devastated some 185 countries, including China itself.  To hold a hearing at the International Court of Justice will be wilful and minding that the World Court holds precedent over such matters, especially when its the legitimate Court to hold such hearings. However, this is not done and deal case. The Coronavirus is not just an issue between a few countries; it affected 185 countries. The world needs to have the voice that prominent, powerful, and influential countries can hold sway to their decisive needs. Hence, the rule should allow a forum non conveniens to hear the arguments and allow the domestic or jurisdictional courts to conduct hearings in their own countries.

(C)    Addressing Negligence – In the English case of Blythe v. Birmingham Water Works, the English Court in Birmingham defined negligence as “the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations which ordinarily regulate man, guided upon those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something which a prudent or reasonable man would not do.” The Chinese have to prove whether the actions of the scientists, researchers, and the censorship from what happened at the laboratory breached a legal duty of reasonable care. This criterion is a standard of conduct to which all members of society are expected to conform. The plaintiff, on the other hand, must prove the existence of a duty,  the defendant’s breach of this duty, and the harm resulting from this breach.

(D)    Lastly, national and enterprise liability – This criterion asserts that the nation, i.e., China and the parent company (enterprise), Wuhan Institute of Virology, and its subsidiaries can be held liable for tortuous actions. The release and spread of the Coronavirus from the laboratory in itself are in the creation of an infectious disease that spread like wildly and being unable to contain it risks millions in the world to curfews, lockdowns, and restriction orders. Those who caught the infectious disease risk their lives for an unknown fate and future, and those that could have survived via tortuous days of medical treatments.

(Cummings, 1986; https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/gjicl/vol16/iss1/5/)

II. Sanctions and Reparations

 

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DC Archives

 

A)    International Solutions

Historically, financial or trade pressures to achieve political ends is as old as the tradecraft. However, perhaps, it has gained more prominence in the 20th century than before. Countries in Europe have gotten used to trading and exporting crafts, wares, and machinery. Any general displeasure to apprehend the trade between nations was detrimental to the economy of the nation.

International sanctions began as early as the First World War. Those days its called the “blockade”. As the Germans wanted to build tools for war, they require mineral resources found in various parts of the world. They also needed the export market to sell the various materials, equipment, tools, and types of machinery to up the ante for their war ambitions. Despite the strategy to curb trade for warring equipment, Great Britain after the war found that the blockade caused malnutrition and estimated that it also caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

In 1919, as the world’s leaders met together for the first time to design a postwar global security solution, they observed the “economic weapon” as a resourceful tool to bring down aggressors to their heels.

Under Article 41 the United Nations (UN) Charter, members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) “may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”

(https://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-vii/index.html)

So given to the UNSC, the members have a mandate to apply such a measure, and nations have to comply under Art. 2(2) which states, “…shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.”

(https://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-i/index.html)

Today, there are six kinds of international sanctions:

  • Economic sanctions – typically a ban on trade, possibly limited to specific sectors such as armaments, or with certain exceptions (such as food and medicine)
  • Diplomatic sanctions – the reduction or removal of diplomatic ties, such as embassies.
  • Military sanctions – military intervention
  • Sports sanctions – preventing one country’s people and teams from competing in international events, like the Olympics or World Cup football.
  • Sanctions on the environment – since the declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, international environmental protection efforts have been increased gradually.
  • Targeted sanctions on individuals – lately, many diplomatic and international experts deemed that it is a bad idea to target a nation economically and financially, as it will affect the people more than the rulers of the country. Therefore, the logical thing to do is to target individuals who carried out atrocities, dictatorships, military and corrupted leaders who do away the nation’s wealth by cooperating with rogue nations or terrorists.

For this diary, sanctions will not be divided into detail and elaborated. The purpose is to clarify the objectives on sanctions and how they can serve to be effective against China and Chinese individuals who knowingly know the issues and negligence but chose to be unresponsive and defiant towards the world.

B)    Coronavirus

The Coronavirus or Covid-19 is an infectious disease but has now evolved into a biological weapon. Unlike other infectious diseases, which is a natural occurrence, mutations of the Coronavirus might have undergone mutations and transformations at the P4 Laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Its spread can be carelessness or negligence on the part of the laboratory workers.

The Foreign Ministry of China vehemently denied the existence of such evidence. Moreover, they insisted that their laboratory is secured and no organisms escaped from the laboratory. They also stressed that the laboratory does not manufacture any viruses or bacteria. As pressure mounts from Western and WHO experts and scientists to visit the P4 laboratory, they were either denied or silent. As of this writing, the laboratory is not accessible to anyone apart from CCP authorities.

 

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DC Archives

 

China’s Foreign Minister further compared the Coronavirus to that of the HIV/AIDs virus infections. They noted that when people of the world contracted HIV/AIDs, nobody accused the West of being the exporter of the virus. Firstly HIV/AIDs do not spread like the Coronavirus because only if an individual comes in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids or sharing the needles with the infected person, or having sex with the person, then a person may risk infections. Secondly, a person with AIDS/HIV is not able to spread to another person even in close contact, as long as no exchanging of fluids. Thirdly, HIV/AIDs did not originate from the West; it originated from non-human primates in Central and West Africa. The first chimp virus crosses into humans in the 1920s in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The discovery of AIDs was possible because of advance medical and scientific knowledge of understanding bacteria and viruses from the 1950s. Therefore in the 1920s, medical experts were not able to have that scientific knowledge. Nevertheless, during the 1980s, it also took the scientists a while to understand the origins of AIDs transmission and infections.

(https://www.avert.org/professionals/history-hiv-aids/origin)

So there is a vast difference between the two viruses. Coronavirus can spread wildly even without coming in contact with another person. Secondly, the Coronavirus cost lives and rake up infections in a matter of days and weeks. More than 3 million were infected, and more than two hundred and eleven thousand have died! Thirdly, the disease creates massive confusion, lockdowns, and shrinks the economy of countries. Fourthly, it has already caused unnecessary chaos, arrests, and household incomes. AIDS/HIV or even SARS pales in comparison. Fifth, the International Council of Jurists filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) accusing China of inactions and violated international human rights, international humanitarian laws, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The sudden daily rise in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is just as bad as the injured civilians in a bomb blast. With the number of death cases rising in the tens of thousands, it sounded as if the explosive blast is so devastating that people are dying from radiating heat from the explosive blast. This scenario is similar to a dirty low yield nuclear bomb. A weapon of mass destruction!

Iraq, Iran, Libya, and North Korea, all have encountered economic sanctions, and yet, they have not done anything destructive worldwide to murder tens of thousands or brought a country to a standstill. They all either have nuclear weapons or the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. During the last few years of the Obama Administration, Iran even allowed UN inspectors to monitor their nuclear reactors. The Chinese refusal to let the French audit the Wuhan institute is a dreadful mistake.

Imposing trade sanctions against China will be devastating to trading nations under the UN sanctions. Developing and weak nations that have been trading partners for decades will need to find future partners to leverage their trade sufficiencies broken off during the sanctions. If these nations keep their business with China, they will not be able to trade with other nations in terms of financial services, educational and medical services. Moreover, they can only unilaterally trade with nations that have business interests with China. In the end, private citizens of those countries who traded with China will suffer more than private or public organizations.

Situations in China are similar. Big corporations like Alibaba, Huawei, or any large Chinese conglomerates, have Chinese Communist Party Politburo members within their board and influence. Just a couple of months ago when Wuhan was devastated with the Coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party hoarded all the medical equipment and face masks, for the country’s use instead of exporting them to countries that procured them.  North Americans and Europeans understood the Chinese attributes and attitudes, and now they are legislating to ensure that manufacturing returned to their nations, and they utilize their supply chains.

Since the Chinese Communist Party took over the nation, they do not care about their citizens. For the millions that suffered, they used whatever deceptions to appease the citizens. Private citizens in the countries do not have any remedies at all. The courts, judiciary, military, and police are the frontline of the Communist Party organ. Discontent citizens can face severe punishments, disappearances, and extended ‘correctional’ rehabilitation programs that attempt to brainwash an individual into fearing the system. Millions of Chinese fled even before the Communists took over the country. China, for centuries, has been a foothold of greed, power, and expansionist behaviour. Feudal clans were fighting for honour, prestige, pride, and glory. Nevertheless, today, that feudal clan is the Communist Party, a dynasty, a deceptive Draconian institution. Either a citizen behaves or leaves.

C)    Targeted Sanctions

The only available arena in this dreadlock is targeted sanctions. Targeted sanctions may lack the impetus, but its painted targets are Chinese individuals responsible for the spread of the virus, and the Chinese organizations that are running manufacturing companies or setting up infrastructure grids in any of the 185 nations with Coronavirus.

Targeted sanctions on corporations do not mean banning the corporation in the nation, but downsizing the number of Chinese expatriates in the company to advisors and consultants roles rather than management roles. Local nationalities will then take up management roles. With that, the company can only become an affiliate rather than the ownership coming from China, meaning the company is a franchise. The franchise should also obtain its sources of funds from the parent corporation.

A targeted individual sanction is similar to the US Magnitsky Act 2012. Formally known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, it is a bipartisan bill passed by the US Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012. The intention here is to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009 and also to grant permanent normal trade relations status to Russia. Since 2016 the bill, which applies globally, authorizes the US government to sanction those whom it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the US.

(Goncharenko, 16/11/2019; https://www.dw.com/en/magnitsky-a-symbol-of-sanctions-and-not-just-in-russia/a-51267181)

In the EU, there is also similar legislation that curtails the abilities of individuals to make money and profit from their investments worldwide. Very similar to the American legislation, it also curtails the movements of the individuals worldwide. The EU targeted sanctions imposed against the individual interrupt normal relations or benefits that would otherwise be granted in response to perceived misconduct by the target. This broad understanding includes economic and financial restrictions as well as diplomatic sanctions. In the EU context, sanctions have traditionally been referred to as ‘restrictive measures’ or mésures negatives in French, even though in recent times the term ‘sanctions’ is gaining currency also in EU parlance.

(EU. Policy Department for External Relations, 2018;

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EXPO_STU(2018)603869)

Benefits on targeted sanctions:

  • Justice is not devastating to those who are not involved in the acts, especially innocent citizens.
  • Assets froze from funds and used towards the economic recovery of a nation.
  • Appropriating business interests to local business to heal back, and perhaps gather lost opportunities.
  • Nations that caused the horrible acts of negligence or terror can reconstruct their via corrective behaviours or they continue to suffer lost revenue.

In places like China, corporate powers run the lifeline for economic prowess. Without them, the industries cannot achieve further than what is within China. The Chinese need the world.

This article was earlier released on Facebook in two parts. = DCWS

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