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Shell settles Ken Saro-Wiwa murder case in Nigeria

June 10, 2009

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.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ukonu jude uche permalink
    June 26, 2009 4:14 am

    To me this is “plead begging” and it should be out of world’s judicial order. Shell should not be left to go scout free.this is while in Nigeria corruption can not be eliminated.The international law should play their role well according to what is written. What has Shell profited from the allegation. “The justice in need is the justice denialed” This most not go for the World order, if they are to maintain their Aplomb. The world is waiting for the outcome on this matter.
    “oh!! the day that Kan was hugged ,oh! the wailing and the tears for an activist “.I wish I was in the World to watch and to see.

  2. marakardasnelson permalink*
    June 15, 2009 12:56 am

    This is great, I think? Not knowing much about international law, I wonder whether it would have been more effective if the case had actually gone to court so that more of a precedence for how these cases could go would be set. I think that there is a dire need for more legal action to be taken against corporations who are responsible for the negative impacts on communities and individuals, be they regarding the environment, human rights, etc. etc. It’s unfortunately not surprising that Shell’s settlement was mere pennies compared to the earnings, and that the community itself will see very little of this. With the cases that have gone to court against corporations–the Bhopal incident in India and Love Canal in the U.S. come to mind, as well as of course Ms. Erin Brochavitch–the time and legal fees involved far outweigh the benefits that the communities actually feel. But even if the legal cases are, at the end of the day, primarily symbolic in nature, it’s a step in the right direction to holding corporations accountable for those they affect in the wake of their grotesquely enormous profits.

    For more information on the case, add The Case Against Shell as a cause on Facebook. You can also check out the website

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