23 Jun 2008

Guantanamo Bay ruling could help Bikini Islanders

5:44 am on 23 June 2008

A US Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. government violated the rights of terror suspects held without charges at Guantanamo Bay could help Bikini Islanders in the Marshall Islands.

The Supreme Court said a Defence Department alternative that stripped U.S. federal courts of jurisdiction to hear petitions from Guantanamo detainees was inadequate, a situation similar to the Bikini islanders.

Washington contends that U.S. courts should have no jurisdiction to hear the Bikini Islanders claims because an alternative mechanism already resolved nuclear testing compensation claims.

Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Jonathan Weisgall, represents the Bikini Islanders seeking more than 1 billion US dollars compensation from nuclear tests.

Earlier this year, a judge dismissed their claim.

The group are now appealing against the dismissal of their compensation lawsuit in U.S. courts

Mr Weisgall said as with Guantanamo, the U.S. has plenary power over the Marshall Islands and is attempting to pretend otherwise in order to create a Constitution-free zone where none of its actions have consequences.

The U.S. tested 23 nuclear weapons at Bikini from 1946-1958, including Bravo in 1954, the largest American hydrogen bomb ever tested.