Shell settles Ken Saro-Wiwa murder case in Nigeria
In 1995, Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and five other activists were hung by the government after leading a campaign to protest Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta. It’s a widely held view that Shell colluded in the executions, providing arms to the Abacha government and helping capture the activists. Shell denies all guilt, but yesterday paid the Ogoni people $15.5 million in an out-of-court settlement. The 15.5 million represents 0.005% of Shell’s 2008 profits, and two-thirds of it will go to pay legal fees (the rest will be used to support initiatives in education, agriculture and small business development). The upside is that it represents a precedent for action in American courts against corporations that commit human rights abroad – the case was due to go to court in New York, under a law from 1789 called the Alien Tort Claims Act.