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Dutch court to rule on whether lawsuit against Shell over alleged involvement in execution of activists in Nigeria can proceed

"Ruling due in Esther Kiobel’s epic legal battle against Shell", 24 Apr 2019

On 1 May, a court in The Hague, the oil multinational’s home town, will deliver a ruling on whether a case brought by Esther and three other Nigerian women over Shell’s role in their husband’s deaths can proceed.

The four widows accuse Shell of instigating a brutal crackdown by the-then military regime against peaceful protesters in Ogoniland, in Africa’s most valuable oil-producing region, the Niger Delta, in the 1990s. The protests were over pollution, the chronic lack of development, and the unfair distribution of oil wealth.

The ensuing crackdown culminated in the unlawful arrest, detention, and execution of the four women’s husbands in November 1995, alongside five other men, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, the writer, and activist who led the protests.

The Nigerian regime falsely accused the “Ogoni Nine” of involvement in a murder, and the men have never been exonerated, despite widespread criticism of the blatantly unfair trial, including by Amnesty International.

With little hope of achieving justice back home or of bringing a case against former members of the Nigerian government, Esther Kiobel and the other widows have instead been seeking to hold Shell accountable for its involvement in the human rights violations against protesters in Ogoniland. They are seeking a public apology as well as compensation...

Esther first sued Shell in the US, where she was granted asylum, in 2002. Shell fought the case on jurisdictional grounds all the way through the courts, and the Supreme Court eventually dismissed it in 2013. The US courts never got to examine the facts of the case or Shell’s responsibility. Four years later, Esther sued Shell in the Netherlands, where it is headquartered, along with the three other widows, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula.

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