From British daily The Independent:
Shell on trial
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Royal Dutch Shell will revisit one of the darkest periods of its history tomorrow as a potentially groundbreaking court case opens in New York.
The world’s boardrooms are watching the case, which is seen as a test of whether transnational companies owned or operating in the US can be held responsible for human rights abuses committed abroad. …
Mr Saro-Wiwa was hanged in November 1995 after being convicted by a military tribunal in which he was denied proper legal representation or appeal. Shell subsequently faced a storm of protest and Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth. The British prime minister John Major called the execution “judicial murder”.
Tomorrow’s proceedings will see the Dutch-based energy giant charged with collaborating with Nigerian authorities in the execution of Mr Saro-Wiwa and eight other members of his ethnic Ogoni group on “trumped-up charges”. …
The suit also alleges that the company consistently conspired with military authorities to violently put down peaceful protests by the Ogoni people, hundreds of thousands of whom Mr Saro-Wiwa had helped to mobilise.
“I have always maintained that Shell was complicit in the conspiracy to silence my father along with thousands of other Ogonis,” said his eldest son, Ken Wiwa Jnr.
Nigeria‘s oil industry has long been the most glaring example of what is called Africa’s “resource curse”.
While Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, the peoples of the river delta where the crude is extracted have seen their homelands turned into a wasteland. The millions of dollars of oil revenue accrued every day have done nothing for the 70 per cent of Nigerians who live on less than $1 a day.
In the Niger Delta, farmlands and fish stocks have been destroyed amid environmental degradation brought on by oil spills, deforestation and the notorious practice of gas flaring, which continues despite being banned.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, an accomplished writer and businessman, had warned that Shell‘s actions in Nigeria would return to haunt them: “I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial … There is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the Delta will be called into question sooner than later and the crimes of that war duly punished.”
The campaigner’s death proved to be a turning point in the Delta and many of his darker predictions have since been borne out. …
Shell has been active since 1958 in the Delta, which contains most of Nigeria’s energy reserves, estimated at 36 billion barrels of oil and 187 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The plaintiffs in the case allege that, although the Nigerian government tortured and executed the claimants and their relatives, “these abuses were instigated, orchestrated, planned, and facilitated by Shell Nigeria” and that the company “provided money, weapons, and logistical support to the Nigerian military, participated in the fabrication of murder charges, and bribed witnesses to give testimony.”
ShellGuilty Rallies in NYC and London Today! Here.
The oil giant Shell has agreed to pay $15.5m (£9.7m) in settlement of a legal action in which it was accused of having collaborated in the execution of the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other leaders of the Ogoni tribe of southern Nigeria: here.
Oil giant Shell has been forced to pay out millions of pounds to the families of murdered Nigerian activists in an out-of-court settlement which campaigners claim confirms the multinational’s complicity in the 1995 killings: here. And here.