Shell to face Nigeria human rights lawsuit

Mar 05, 2002 01:00 AM

A human rights lawsuit against Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Trading and Transport's activities in Nigeria can go forward, according to a ruling by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Kimba Wood's ruling has determined that the case, which is being brought by EarthRights International and other parties, can now go forward to the so-called discovery phase where the parties can attempt to seek a settlement agreement prior to the case proceeding to trial.

The case alleges that Shell, operating directly and through Shell Nigeria, recruited the Nigerian police and military during the mid-1990s to suppress the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) to ensure that Shell Nigeria's development activities could proceed as usual. Judge Wood's ruling, which was received by the plaintiffs, will also allow similar claims to be brought against Brian Anderson, the former head of Shell's Nigerian subsidiary.
"This ruling means that the families of Ken Saro-Wiwa(MOSOP's leader) and his Ogoni colleagues may yet get some measure of justice for the unlawful executions and other abuses in which Shell was complicit," said Richard Herz, an attorney with EarthRights International.

Nigerian environmentalist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, youth leader John Kpuinen and seven other Ogoni activists were hanged by the Nigeria government in Nov 1995. The nine activists had opposed Shell's oil development in the Niger Delta. The plaintiffs are represented by the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, EarthRights International, and Seattle University law professors Julie Shapiro, and Paul Hoffman.

Source: Ananova
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