Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Shell settles rights abuse case

Royal Dutch Shell is pay Nigerian families $15.5 million dollars to settle a human rights abuse lawsuit, without accepting or denying wrongdoing.ShotlistStory
Ken Saro-Wiwa's face is still plastered across posters in Nigeria.

He remains a symbol of a 13-year struggle to prove oil giant Royal Dutch Shell complicit in human rights abuses.

Action accused Shell of colluding with Nigeria's former military government to silence environmental and human rights activists in the country.

Shell has now agreed to pay the relatives of Saro-Wiwa and nine others over $15 million dollars.

MARCO SIMONS, LEGAL DIRECTOR, EARTHRIGHTS INTERNATIONAL, SAYING:

"Shell continues to deny liability, but we think the fact that they are paying over $15 million dollars to these plaintiffs itself is a recognition of responsibility for the injuries that they have suffered and for a substantial responsibility at that."

Ken Saro-Wiwa and five other campaigners were executed in 1995.

They had been fighting for the rights of the Ogoni ethnic people and protesting at pollution caused by the oil industry.

Shell was accused of collusion in murder, torture and other abuses by Nigeria's former military government against the campaigners.

But the oil giant continues to deny any wrongdoing and says the payment is part of a "process of reconciliation".

The activities of multinational companies have long been controversial. But none have been found liable of human rights abuses by a U.S. jury.

MARCO SIMONS, LEGAL DIRECTOR, EARTHRIGHTS INTERNATIONAL, SAYING:

"As for Shell and other companies operating in the Niger Delta and around the world, I think this settlement sends that message that you can not cause human rights violations, assist soldiers in committing abuses with impunity, that you will be held to account."

For the relatives of those executed, the money simply represents a "measure" of compensation.

But there's hope the case will force other multinationals to adopt policies compliant with human rights standards.

Suranjana Tewari, Reuters.