Jun 10, 2009

Shell forced to settle out of court

by PhilLee — last modified Jun 10, 2009 01:06 PM

Damning evidence reveals Shell’s complicity in crimes against humanity as a landmark case is resolved in favour of families of executed Nigerian environmental leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and others after a 14 year legal battle.

shellguilty logoAfter legal battles lasting nearly fourteen years, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has been forced to pay a $15.5 million out-of-court settlement. Plaintiffs from the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta have successfully held Shell accountable for complicity in human rights atrocities committed against the Ogoni people in the 1990s, including the execution of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The legal action is one of the few cases brought under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute that have been resolved in favour of the plaintiffs. The settlement includes establishment of a $5 million trust to benefit local communities in Ogoni.

“We congratulate the plaintiffs on their victory. Let there be no doubt that Shell has emerged guilty. With this settlement, Shell is seeking to keep the overwhelming evidence of its crimes away from the scrutiny of a jury trial,” said FoEI campaigner Paul de Clerk.


“Shell could not stand the damage of bad publicity around this human rights case. Global campaigners have helped to highlight Shell's abuses and we share in this historic victory” he continued. 


Han Shan from the ShellGuilty campaign said: “This case should be a wake up call to multinational corporations that they will be held accountable for violations of international law, no matter where they occur,”


This settlement though will not put an end to the daily struggles people throughout the Niger Delta face as a result of Shell's activities in the region. Despite this victory, justice will not be served in Ogoni and throughout the Delta until the gas flares are put out, the spills cleaned up, and the military stops protecting the oil companies and starts serving the people. This issue will not be solved until these legitimate grievances of the community are addressed.


the fight goes on

the ogoni 9The next phase of the struggle continues with another case with an Ogoni plaintiff pending in the New York District Court, and a further legal action in The Hague, Netherlands, where Royal Dutch Shell is headquartered. The company faces a legal action there for repeated oil spills, brought by residents of the Niger Delta, with support from Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

“Shell will be dragged from the boardroom to the courthouse, time and again, until the company addresses the injustices at the root of the Niger Delta crisis and put an end to its environmental devastation,” says Anne van Schaik from Friends of the Earth Netherlands.


“Communities, human rights lawyers and activists will continue to demand justice with the same determination and hope shown by Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people.”