Saro-Wiwa justice

IssueJuly - August 2009
Feature by Emily Johns

13 years after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni human rights activists Shell was brought to court in New York for complicity with the Nigerian government for these state murders.

The Ogoni were to use US Alien Tort Statute but Shell settled with them out of court on 8 June with a payment of $15.5m (the equivalent of four hours profit for Shell), seemingly to prevent evidence about their corporate entanglement with the Nigerian military dictatorship reaching the public domain.

Fortunately they have failed to stem the rapid leaking of documents which have emerged in the pages of the Independent on Sunday, the Morning Star and others.

Paying out paltry monies is a feeble attempt to stop the inevitable since there is a case brought by an Ogoni plaintiff pending in the New York District Court, and a further legal action in The Hague, Netherlands, home of Royal Dutch Shell.

The company also faces a legal action in the Netherlands for repeated oil spills, brought by residents of the Niger Delta, with support from Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Friends of the Earth.