Chinese govt pressures poisoned milk victims to drop law suits

Families of children who were poisoned by melamine tainted milk in China are being pressured by government officials to drop law suits seeking compensation.

Local officials were calling and visiting at least a half-dozen families, urging them to drop their cases against the dairies and accept a government-sanctioned compensation plan giving 2,000 yuan ($290) to most victims, said Zhao Lianhai, the father of a child who was sickened by the milk.

At least one family has decided to back out of their lawsuit, Zhao said Tuesday.

. . .  The accusations that local officials are trying to intimidate victim’s families come despite this month’s announcement by the executive vice president of China’s highest court, Shen Deyong, that parents who rejected the government’s compensation plan were welcome to file lawsuits against the dairies.

It was not clear why local officials would try to stop the families after Shen’s announcement. But different levels of government in China often disagree on how to handle matters, and local officials may see lawsuits as a threat to their authority with the potential to upset stability in their community.

Politics within politics was blamed for the delay in withdrawing contaminated milk from sale in the first place. The damage that did is being compounded by this attempt to stop families from seeking compensation.

Money won’t bring back a dead baby but it will help pay for care for children who have on-going health problems as a result of drinking the infant formula which was poisoned with melamine.

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