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Lawsuit

BP lawsuit (re Casanare, Colombia, filed in the UK)

Status: CLOSED

Incident date
Nov. 9, 2014
Male
Human Rights Defender
Location of Filing: United Kingdom
Location of Incident: Colombia
Type of Litigation: Transnational
Company: BP
Company Sector: Oil, gas & coal
Company Location: United Kingdom

Sources

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Snapshot: In 2002, a trade unionist sued BP in the UK and the UK, alleging he was kidnapped by a paramilitary group who was paid by Ocensa, a joint venture between BP's subsidiary and Ecopetrol. BP denied the allegations. The plaintiff voluntariy withdraw his US case, due to recent changes in the law and the UK case was dimissed by the Court, who ordered it should end with no payment of costs. This case profile looks at proceedings in the UK.

In 2002, Gilberto Torres, a trade unionist who worked at an oil pumping station in the Casanare region of Colombia, was kidnapped by a paramilitary group.  He was detained in a pit and tortured for over 6 weeks. The plaintiff sued BP in the US and launched proceedings in the UK alleging that the paramilitaries were paid by Ocensa (a joint-venture between BP’s subsidiary BPXC, and Ecopetrol) to protect the pipeline from guerrilla attacks, and claiming that Ocensa ordered them to carry out the kidnapping.  BP denies the allegations.

UK proceedings:

In November 2014 representatives of Gilberto Torres, wrote a letter before claim (required in England to give a final opportunity to the other party to settle the issue before going to court) to BP over allegations of complicity in kidnapping and torture of Mr Torres in Colombia in 2002 to offer BP the chance to settle the matter.  BP has denied the allegations.  In May 2015 Mr Torres filed his claim for damages in the high court in London.

In September 2016, the UK High Court ordered that Gilberto Torres’ case should end with no payment of costs.  He discontinued the lawsuit due to legal, procedural and financial challenges.

- Colombia: High Court ends trade unionist's case against BP, War on Want, 13 Oct 2016
- Colombian trade unionist sues BP before UK courts over alleged complicity in his abduction by paramilitaries 13 years ago, Mary Carson, Adrian Gatton, Rodrigo Vázquez & Maggie O'Kane, Guardian (UK), 25 de mayo de 2015
-  Kidnapped Colombian trade unionist suing BP for complicity calls for laws to prosecute human rights abuses committed by UK corporations), RT, 12 de octubre de 2015
- “BP is accused over kidnap of union leader”, Michael Gillard, Sunday Times (UK), 9 Nov 2014
- [ES] “Sindicalista demandará a British Petroleum por su secuestro”, Noticias Uno (Colombia), 6 de enero de 2014

Deighton Pierce Glynn [plaintiff’s lawyer]:
- "Gilberto Torres BP case ends but opens doors", 13 Oct 2016
- “Kidnapped Colombian trade unionist sues oil companies”, 10 Nov 2014

Case Timeline