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Lawsuit

Shell lawsuit (re executions in Nigeria, Wiwa v Shell, filed in USA)

Status: CLOSED

Incident date
Dec. 1, 1996
Date accuracy
Year Correct
Unknown
Human Rights Defender
Location of Filing: United States of America
Location of Incident: Nigeria
Type of Litigation: Transnational

Companies

Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) Netherlands Oil, gas & coal

Sources

In the 1990s the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) campaigned against the environmental damage caused by oil extraction in the Ogoni region of Nigeria and for increased autonomy for the Ogoni ethnic group.  Barinem Kiobel, Ken Saro-Wiwa and other members of MOSOP were detained illegally in 1994, held incommunicado in military custody, then tried by a special court established by the military government using procedures in violation of international fair trial standards, convicted of murder and executed.

Wiwa v. Shell

Ken Wiwa the son of the late Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and other members of MOSOP in 1996 filed a lawsuit against Shell in the US. The lawsuit alleged that the Nigerian military government and security forces committed human rights violations, including torture and summary execution of MOSOP members, to suppress MOSOP’s activities and that Royal Dutch/Shell was complicit in the commission of these abuses.  The plaintiffs won several pre-trial rulings, including on motions by the defendants to dismiss the case. 

In early June 2009, the parties announced that they had agreed to a settlement in the case for $15.5 million.  The settlement provides compensation for the ten plaintiffs and covers a portion of the plaintiffs’ legal costs.  The settlement also establishes The Kiisi Trust, intended to benefit the Ogoni people, which will be governed by independent trustees.  This trust is to fund initiatives in Ogoni such as education, women’s programmes, adult literacy and small enterprise support.

Coverage: 

Wiwa v. Royal Dutch/Shell, Wiwa v. Anderson, and Wiwa v. SPDC:

US Circuit Court for the Second Circuit:

  • Wiwa v. Shell, 14 Sep 2000 [reversal of lower court’s dismissal of the case]

US District Court for the Southern District of New York:

Case Timeline