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The Nigerian village that stood up to Shell and won

The Guardian

The village that stood up to big oil – and won

The fossil fuel industry faces a reckoning in the Niger Delta after a disaster left families ‘eating, drinking, breathing the oil’

Wednesday 1 June 2022

Today, the oil industry in Nigeria faces a reckoning with Shell at the helm. According to Amnesty International, the oil company has come under “unprecedented legal scrutiny” in recent years for its negligent and criminal practices in the Niger Delta. Several lawsuits are ongoing while others have culminated in courts ordering Shell to pay plaintiffs billions of dollars in damages. The mounting pressure has Shell considering a rapid departure from the region’s oil market. In early August 2021, the company announced it would sell off all remaining onshore oilfields in Nigeria, citing challenges with community unrest, sabotage and a company-wide refocus on promoting green energy. But locals and lawyers see the move as Shell ducking its responsibility to clean up after itself. A court in March barred Shell from selling any more assets in Nigeria while the company appeals against a ruling in which it was found liable for a 2019 oil spill and ordered to pay affected communities nearly $2bn in damages. read more

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The Hague: Esther Kiobel vows to continue her campaign for justice

Amnesty International

The Hague: Esther Kiobel vows to continue her campaign for justice

23 March 2022

Human rights defender Esther Kiobel today lost her civil case against oil giant Shell, which she accuses of complicity in the 1995 execution of her husband by the Nigerian military government, but has promised to continue her campaign for justice. Esther has spent 27 years seeking justice for her husband Dr Barinem Kiobel, who was hanged along with eight other men in connection with widespread protests against oil pollution in the Niger Delta.At a witness hearing in 2019, three men told the Dutch court that Shell and the Nigerian government had given them money and offered them other bribes in order to incriminate Esther’s husband and eight other men, known collectively as the “Ogoni Nine”. But today, the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Shell had been involved.

Esther Kiobel brought the case against Shell along with three other women, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula, whose husbands were also executed in 1995. Amnesty International’s research into the historic injustice has revealed how Shell’s requests for ‘assistance’ in handling environmental protests led to a brutal government crackdown, culminating in the arrests and unlawful executions of the women’s husbands, as well as renowned activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and four other men.

“This is a disappointing outcome, but these extraordinarily brave women are not giving up. Their voices have been heard. They should be commended for their resilience and unbreaking commitment to exposing the truth, and for the invaluable work they have done to highlight the global culture of impunity for multinationals accused of human rights abuses,” said Mark Dummett, Head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

“It has taken years of legal wrangling for Esther Kiobel to get Shell to face her in a courtroom. Shell tried every trick in the book, from disputing jurisdiction to refusing to hand over crucial documents. The fact that it took more than twenty years for a court to hear Esther’s argument is a grim indictment of how corporations are able to evade accountability for terrible crimes and human rights abuses. Despite the ruling today, Esther’s battle for justice has not been in vain – her persistence represents a powerful argument for change. Governments must do more to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses, and make it possible for the victims to seek justice.”

Esther Kiobel fled Nigeria and settled in the US following her husband’s killing. She first filed a case against Shell in New York in 2002, but in 2013 the US Supreme Court ruled that the US did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. In 2017, Amnesty International supported Esther Kiobel, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula in bringing a new case against Shell in the Netherlands. The four plaintiffs accused Shell of being instrumental in the unlawful arrest and detention of their husbands; the violation of their husbands’ physical integrity; and the violation of their right to a fair trial and to life, and their own right to a family life. The case was held up when Shell refused to hand over crucial documents relating to the case, and it was not until 2019 that the District Court of The Hague heard the women’s arguments for the first time.

Amnesty International has extensively detailed Shell’s role in the crackdown in Ogoniland. In a 2017 report read more

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Big Oil’s filthy legacy in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria

Image from Amnesty International UK

IMAGE SOURCE: Slick PR can’t disguise Shell’s devastating oil pollution in Nigeria

ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

The Fisherwomen, Chevron and the Leaking Pipe

Oil companies like Chevron, Shell and Eni have made billions in profits in the vast Niger Delta region in the last decades. But now some are pulling out — and they are leaving utter ruin in their wake, according to government monitors and environmental and human rights organizations. The delicate ecosystem of the Niger Delta, once teeming with plant and animal life, is today one of the most polluted places on the planet. read more

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Human rights defender Esther Kiobel urges EU Commission to ensure access for justice to victims of corporate abuse

After two decades of seeking justice, the District Court of the Hague ruled in May 2019 that the case could be heard in The Netherlands. In the ongoing case, the Court is assessing the role that Shell played in the ‘Ogoni Nine’ – among them my husband – being sentenced to death and executed.

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Will Supermajors Finally Be Held Accountable For Oil Spills?

Will Supermajors Finally Be Held Accountable For Oil Spills?

By Global Risk Insights – May 08, 2021, 12:00 PM CDT

A British Supreme Court ruling has brought to a head a 13-year-old battle to hold Royal Dutch Shell accountable for massive oil spills in the Niger Delta in 2008 and 2009. This creates a precedent for taking multinational corporations to trial in the home countries of their parent companies. This may mark the beginning of a more regulated global environment, in which subsidiary companies responsible for human rights abuses happening abroad could be held more accountable. Whether this will be an effective solution remains to be seen.  read more

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Shell in Germany seeks to speed up drive to go green

Shell in Germany seeks to speed up drive to go green

Fri, February 26, 2021, 12:11 PM

By Vera Eckert

FRANKFURT, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell in Germany aims to produce aviation fuel and naphtha made from crops and renewable power and to increase to commercial scale an electrolysis plant that makes fossil-free hydrogen, as it seeks to move away from crude oil.

The energy major told an online conference on Friday it had applied for subsidies to carry out the work from the European Union and from German funds earmarked for decarbonisation. read more

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Landmark court ruling could ‘end impunity’ for Shell and other multinationals

Landmark court ruling could ‘end impunity’ for Shell and other multinationals

A major court defeat for oil and gas giant Shell could herald the end of “a long chapter of impunity” for multinationals implicated in human rights abuses overseas, lawyers and campaigners have said.

The UK Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Ogale and Bille communities in the Niger Delta can bring legal claims for clean-up and compensation against Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS) and its Nigerian subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC). read more

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Dear Shell: After 25 Years, Are You Finally Ready to Accept Your Role in the Murder of Ogoni 9?

Shell has tried to shed its image of corporate killer like a snake would its skin.

Dear Shell: After 25 Years, Are You Finally Ready to Accept Your Role in the Murder of Ogoni 9?

The Ogoni 9 — Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine — were murdered 25 years ago for their campaign against Shell. Photo by Martin LeSanto-Smith.

The fossil fuel giant could have tried to right its wrongs, grave as they were. Instead, it has chosen profit over people, indifference over action. This article originally appeared in OilChange International. ANDY ROWELL: November 12, 2020

And so another grim, painful milestone is reached. It is now a quarter of a century since the Ogoni 9 were murdered in Nigeria. read more

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Kiobel vs Shell: 4 Nigerian women take on the corporate machine

Kiobel vs Shell: 4 Nigerian women take on the corporate machine

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

TOMORROW, a Dutch court will hear witnesses and examine the merits of a landmark case brought by Esther Kiobel and three other women with regard to what they claim was Shell’s involvement in the unlawful arrest, torture and execution of their husbands by the Nigerian military.

This follows a hearing in October 2019, where four people have accused Shell of bribing witnesses to testify against the men during their trial in the 1990s. read more

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Nigeria: Shell still failing to clean up pollution in Niger Delta

Only 11% of contaminated sites have even seen clean-up operations begin

Thousands of Ogoni people still facing serious health risks, some unable to access safe drinking water

Supreme Court to hear case next week brought by affected Niger Delta communities 

‘The discovery of oil in Ogoniland has brought huge suffering for its people’ – Osai Ojigho 

Nearly ten years after the UN called for a major clean-up of areas of the Niger Delta polluted by the oil giant Shell and other oil companies, decontamination work has begun on only 11% of planned sites while vast areas remain heavily contaminated, according to a new investigation by four NGOs published today. read more

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: No clean up, no justice: Shell’s oil pollution in the Niger Delta

18 JUNE 2020

Nearly 10 years after a clean-up was urged for areas polluted by Shell and other oil companies in the Niger Delta, work has begun on only 11% of planned sites while vast areas remain heavily contaminated, according to a new investigation by four NGOs.

In 2011 the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report documenting the devastating impact of the oil industry in Ogoniland, and set out urgent recommendations for clean-up. But the new investigation highlights that “emergency measures” proposed by UNEP have not been properly implemented and that the billion-dollar clean-up project launched by the Nigerian government in 2016 has been ineffective. read more

shellplc.website and its sister non-profit websites royaldutchshellplc.com, royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

Amnesty International Report: On Trial: Shell in Nigeria: Conclusions and Recommendations

FROM PAGES 28 & 29

These cases are important for what they mean for the individuals and communities involved. They could also set important precedents on the responsibility of companies for their overseas operations, which would open the way for further litigation not only against Shell but other multinational corporations as well.

They are also placing a much-needed spotlight on Shell’s business model in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s regulation of the oil industry is undoubtedly weak and lacks independence. Government agencies responsible for industry regulation and enforcement are under-resourced, ineffective and in some cases compromised by conflicts of interest. Its own courts have failed to offer the victims of human rights abuses a meaningful avenue for seeking justice for the oil spills that have blighted the Niger Delta and the lives and livelihoods of its communities. Shell has thus avoided being held effectively to account in Nigeria. read more

shellplc.website and its sister non-profit websites royaldutchshellplc.com, royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: THE “OPL 245” BRIBERY CASE

3.3 THE “OPL 245” BRIBERY CASE

In 2018, Italian prosecutors brought a criminal case over the alleged involvement of Shell, and the Italian oil multinational Eni, in a 1.3 billion US dollar bribery scheme linked to the license of OPL 245. This is the name of one of Nigeria’s most valuable offshore oil blocks.

Thirteen individuals, including some current and former senior managers of Shell and the Italian oil company Eni, are currently on trial in Italy relating to how the two companies acquired the block in 2011.80 The defendants include both companies, a former Royal Dutch Shell Executive Board Member and two former MI6 agents who worked for Shell.81 read more

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NIGERIAN FARMERS ENVIRONMENTAL CASES AGAINST SHELL

Thousands of barrels of oil spouted out of the broken pipeline at Bodo for 10 weeks before Shell finally clamped it on 7 November 2008. © CEHRD

Pastor Christian Kpandei contemplates the damage done to his fish farm in Bodo, Nigeria, May 2011. The farm flourished before the August 2008 oil spill, but the pollution destroyed his fish farm, leaving him and his workers without a regular income. © Amnesty International

3.2.1 FOUR FARMERS’ CASES

The first of the pollution-related cases marked the first time that any Dutch company had been sued in the Dutch court for the operations of its subsidiaries overseas.

In 2008, four Nigerian farmers (Eric Barizaa Dooh, Fidelis Ayoro Oguru, Alali Efanga and Friday Alfred Akpan), along with Milieudefensie, the Dutch section of Friends of the Earth, filed claims against RDS and SPDC.44

They are seeking to obtain compensation for alleged damage to fish ponds and land caused by oil spills from two underground pipelines and an oil well operated by Shell in the villages of Goi, Ikot Ada Udo and Oruma between 2004 and 2007.45 read more

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Amnesty International: Environmental cases against Shell

Oil pollution in Kegbara-Dere (K-Dere) community in Ogoniland, Rivers State, Niger Delta, Nigeria. This community has experienced multiple oil spills since Shell started operations there in the 1960s. September 2015. © Michael Uwemedimo/cmapping.net
Shell’s pipelines in Ogoniland are old and poorly maintained. There have been several spills and in 2009 there was a huge fire, at the Bomu Manifold, at K. Dere, Rivers state. September 2015. © Michael Uwemedimo/cmapping.net
Dead periwinkles covered in oily mud from Bodo creek, Nigeria, May 2011. There were two massives spills in August 2009 from a poorly maintained Shell pipeline. © Amnesty International
Signboard warning people not to enter stream that has been contaminated by oil spills, Ogale, Rivers State, Nigeria. Every year there are hundreds of spills in the Niger Delta, and clean-up is often slow and ineffective. © Amnesty International

3.2 ENVIRONMENTAL CASES (Pages 16, 17, 18 & 10)

There are three separate legal proceedings taking place against Shell in Dutch and British courts relating to oil pollution. This has devastated the Niger Delta.

Data from Shell’s own spill incident reports reveal that from 2011-18 the company reported a huge number of spills – 1,010 – along the network of pipelines and wells that it operates.25 Spills have a variety of causes – from third-party tampering, to operational faults and corrosion of aged facilities. Shell blames most spills on theft and pipeline sabotage, and are not due to its own negligence.26 read more

shellplc.website and its sister non-profit websites royaldutchshellplc.com, royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

Litigation: KIOBEL AND OTHERS V SHELL

Esther Kiobel and Victoria Bera sit with their lawyer as a Dutch court hears the first arguments in an historic case against Shell, in which the oil giant stands accused of instigating a raft of horrifying human rights violations committed by the Nigerian government against the Ogoni people in the 1990s, on February 12, 2019 in The Hague, Netherlands. © Pierre Crom/Getty Images

 KIOBEL AND OTHERS V SHELL

Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta were first, and most effectively, put under the spotlight in the 1990s by Ken Saro-Wiwa, an acclaimed Nigerian writer. Saro-Wiwa led a community organisation in his home area, Ogoniland, called the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). MOSOP said that while outsiders had grown rich on the oil that was pumped from under their soil, pollution from oil spills and gas flaring had, “led to the complete degradation of the Ogoni environment, turning our homeland into an ecological disaster.”10 read more

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