New York trial over Shell's alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Nigeria postponed until next week

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Article
26 May 2009

Shell's N.Y. trial over Nigerian deaths delayed

Author: Reuters

A civil trial over the alleged involvement of giant oil producer Royal Dutch Shell in the executions of protesters in Nigeria in the 1990s has been delayed until next week, a court clerk said on Tuesday...Shell is accused of human rights abuses, including violations connected with the 1995 hangings of prominent activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other protesters by Nigeria's then-military government. Shell has denied allegations of involvement.

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Article
25 May 2009

Old law exhumed by fighters for human rights [USA]

Author: Michael Peel, Financial Times

...On Tuesday, a court in New York will start hearing a lawsuit alleging Shell was complicit in Ken Saro-Wiwa’s death and a campaign of terror by Nigerian security forces. The claim – which the company says is false and is defending – is one of a series of similar cases launched against big businesses from round the world...The potential of these lawsuits to generate huge damages and disastrous publicity now hovers, according to one lawyer whose firm defends big companies, “very close to the consciousness of corporate America acting overseas”…These US actions are part of a wider international move to hold companies to account in rich countries over allegedly harmful activities in the poor world. In the absence of a bespoke world civil court to deal with such claims, lawyers are coming up with innovative ways of using existing national laws and procedures…The steadily widening stream of international litigation has opened up largely because of the US Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789…While some corporate lawyers argue the act is being used in cases for which it was never originally intended, the statute’s supporters say it is probably being applied in the same spirit now as it was when it was created. [also refers to Chevron, Trafigura, Unocal, Yahoo!]

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Article
21 May 2009

Oil Industry Braces for Trial on Rights Abuses

Author: Jad Mouwad, New York Times

Fourteen years after the execution of...activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by Nigeria’s former military regime, Royal Dutch Shell will appear before a federal court in New York to answer charges of crimes against humanity in connection with his death...The case could have global repercussions for the oil industry, said Arvind Ganesan, the head of the business and human rights practice at Human Rights Watch...“The lesson here is that these cases aren’t going away,” Mr. Ganesan said. “If a jury found Shell guilty, this would change the behavior of the industry pretty quickly.” [refers to Unocal lawsuit (re Burma), Chevron lawsuit (re Nigeria)]

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