Talisman lawsuit (re Sudan)

Sudan army By: Tim Freccia via www.enoughproject.orgIn 2001, the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, as well as a number of Sudanese individuals, filed suit in US federal court against Talisman Energy.  They alleged the company’s complicity in the Sudanese Government’s human rights abuses against non-Muslim Sudanese living in the area of Talisman’s oil concession in southern Sudan and that these abuses amounted to genocide.  The plaintiffs allege that the Sudanese Government was engaged in an armed campaign of ethnic cleansing against the non-Muslim Sudanese which included massive civilian displacement, extrajudicial killing of civilians, torture, rape and the burning of villages, churches and crops.  The court granted Talisman's motion to dismiss on 12 September 2006 finding that the plaintiffs had failed to supply sufficient admissible evidence to permit the lawsuit to go to trial on the plaintiffs' claims.  In February of 2007 plaintiffs appealed this dismissal to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  On 2 October 2009, the Court of Appeals ruled on this case, and it affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit.  The Court of Appeals also found that to determine liability under the Alien Tort Claims Act the plaintiffs must show that the defendant "purposefully" aided and abetted a violation of international law.  On 15 April 2010, the plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court asking the court to hear an appeal of the lower court's dismissal of the case.  On 20 May 2010, EarthRights International filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging it to hear the appeal and overturn the dismissal of the case.  In October 2010 the Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the appeal in this case.

- "2nd Circuit Finds Aid Must Be 'Purposeful' For Alien Tort Statute Liability", Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal, 6 Oct 2009
- "Canada says U.S. can't hear lawsuit", Kelly Patterson, CanWest News Service, 26 May 2007
- "Presbyterian Church of Sudan Appeals Genocide Case In US", Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife, 17 Mar 2007
- "Judge throws out lawsuit against Talisman", CBC News, 12 Sep 2006
- “Canada asked U.S. to intervene in Talisman Case”, Jeffrey Jones, Reuters, 6 Jul 2005
- “Talisman Suit to Proceed”, BBC News, 20 Mar 2003

- Talisman Energy: Press Release: Lawsuit Against Talisman Energy Dismissed, 12 Sep 2006
- Talisman Energy: Corporate Responsibility - Human Rights
- Berger & Montague, P.C. (plaintiffs’ counsel): Talisman Energy Dealt a Powerful Setback in US Federal Court, 10 Sep 2002

- US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit: [PDF]Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, 2 Oct 2009 [affirming the lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit]
- US District Court for the Southern District of New York: [PDF] Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, 12 Sep 2006 [order granting defendant's motion to dismiss]

- [PDF] Presbyterian Church of Sudan, et al. v. Talisman Energy, Inc. - Brief for EarthRights International as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioners, 20 May 2010
- [PDF] Presbyterian Church of Sudan, et al. v. Talisman Energy, Inc. - Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Carey D'Avino & Paul Hoffman [counsel for plaintiffs], 15 Apr 2010
- Institute on Religion and Democracy: [PDF] Amicus Brief - Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, 7 Mar 2007 [amicus brief filed with US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in support of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan]
- Washington Legal Foundation: [PDF] Amicus Brief: Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, 8 Mar 2007 [amicus brief filed with US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in support of Talisman Energy] 
- [PDF] Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy - Opening Brief For Plaintiffs - Appellants, 26 Feb 2007 [brief filed with US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan]

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Article
14 June 2006

[PDF] Sudan: Oil exploration fueling displacement in the South

Author: Refugees International

South Sudan has seen a rapid increase in oil exploration…there are reports of forced migration and violence in the areas of oil exploration…[a] UN Official [said], “There are armed forces all over the area…Their job is to displace the people and there is also an army…to protect the oil fields. These displaced people are…forced off their land without any compensation. This will definitely cause future conflict.”…The capacity of the new government in Sudan to monitor…is still quite weak. Evaluations of corporate activity and its impact on Sudanese citizens’ human rights are inconsistent and incomplete... [refers to Chinese National Petroleum Corporation, ChevronTexaco, Jarch Capital, Occidental, Shell, Talisman, Unocal]

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Article
20 February 2006

Dangerous liaison

Author: Rick Westhead, Toronto Star

Recently disclosed memos show that Talisman had a far better understanding than it has ever acknowledged of how its facilities were being used by the Sudan military in its war with the rebels... Talisman chief executive James Buckee went into damage-control mode [in 1999], trying to persuade the Canadian government not to impose sanctions on the company... Yet...Talisman officials knew the company's facilities at Heglig were being used by the Sudanese to refuel planes and helicopters and load them with 500-pound bombs and other armament. In an internal report prepared for Talisman, Mark Reading, the company's security adviser and former British special forces member, wrote..."All the [Talisman employees] see the level of activity concerning the airfield and are genuinely concerned that it makes them a legitimate target... The real issue isn't that, but one of how the news would be received if it got out."... Reading's memos are among the myriad documents that recently have been released in U.S. federal court as part of a personal injuries lawsuit filed against the company... "The reason they used Heglig makes perfect sense," Reading continued. "They would be much closer to the area that they were bombing, so enabling them to carry out more sorties... Reading wrote that villagers called the bombing runs "whispering death" because they could hear the propeller-powered planes but couldn't see them... In a statement on the newly released documents, a company spokesperson told the Star: "...It does not help your readers to understand this complex case to publish excerpts from a few, highly selected documents without context or a chance for rebuttal. This is particularly true when Talisman is unable to comment because U.S. Judge (Denise) Cote has told both parties not to argue this case in the media. Talisman is respecting Judge Cote's direction." In a court document filed July 29, Talisman wrote, "there was no indication in any of the documents or testimony that during the brief period that Antonov bombers used the Government airstrip at Heglig, the Antonovs were being deployed against civilian populations." Rather, Talisman said in the court filing, the company believed the Sudanese military was deploying the armament against rebel forces in the south. [also refers to Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co. (GNPOC)]

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Article
20 February 2006

Yes, Master - How Western companies are selling their souls for a piece of the massive Chinese market

Author: Steve Maich, Macleans [Canada]

A former executive with Occidental Chemical Corp. and ex-president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, [John] Kamm has spent the past 16 years working for human rights reform in China... [L]ately, he has watched in disbelief as some of the world's biggest companies meekly complied with China's most audacious crackdown in years... [refers to role in censorship by China Govt. of Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Nortel Networks, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft]… None of [the companies’ defenses of their actions hold] water with Kamm... "What did we learn at Nuremberg? If a law violates international human rights law, then you're obligated not to follow it..."... If businessmen were to show as much courage in the face of Communist leaders as they do in the boardroom, China would be a far more liberated place than it is today. "Business people are supposed to be able to do this kind of thing, they should be natural at it," Kamm says. "You should be able to sell the guy on something he may not want to hear initially..." [also refers to Levi Strauss, Nike, Reebok (part of adidas-Salomon), Gap and labour standards; role of SNC-Lavalin, Acres International, Hydro-Québec, Dominion Bridge in Three Gorges Dam; General Motors in South Africa; Talisman Energy in Sudan]

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Article
1 January 2006

Chevron fights rights abuse allegations

Author: Terence Chea, Associated Press

The haunting images displayed in a photo exhibit at San Francisco City Hall claim to document the devastating effects of more than three decades of oil extraction in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest... Humberto Piaguaje...blames [Chevron] for sickening his people and poisoning his homeland. He's one of 30,000 plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit that alleges San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. failed to clean up billions of gallons of toxic waste dumped in pristine rainforest in Ecuador... Chevron, one of the world's largest oil companies, has denied human rights and environmental violations in the 180 countries where it operates, but allegations of abuse threaten its public image around the world... Investors don't appear to be worried... Fadel Gheit, a senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., believes the company will likely win both cases [the Ecuador case and a US case related to alleged complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria], and if they are forced to compensate victims, the payments won't be big enough to affect the bottom line. "It's nothing but background noise," Gheit said. But critics say the company's troubles in Nigeria and Ecuador are part of a deeper problem. [also refers to Texaco (part of Chevron), PetroEcuador, Talisman, Unocal (part of Chevron)]

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Article
21 November 2005

Human rights group sues Talisman Energy

Author: Larry Neumeister, Associated Press

A federal judge recently limited the scope of the 2001 lawsuit brought by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan against...Talisman Energy...by refusing to grant class-action status...The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will decide by the end of this year whether to consider the class-action issue before the case goes to trial in January 2007. The plaintiffs say class-action status is crucial to set the stage for a potentially large payout to Sudanese victims and to set a precedent for U.S. courts to aid suffering people worldwide who cannot find relief in their own courts.

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Article
22 October 2005

Sudanese Army, Talisman Closely Linked, Lawsuit Alleges

Author: Kelly Patterson, The Ottawa Citizen

An oil venture co-owned by Talisman Energy Inc. helped "command the military" protecting its Sudanese facilities at the same time as troops were launching bomb raids on villages from the site, according to documents filed in court this year in a lawsuit against the Calgary firm. The note is one of dozens of new allegations -- many based on company documents -- that have recently been made public in the four-year-long suit filed in a New York court against Talisman. The lawsuit, filed under the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act, contends Talisman colluded with the government in genocide and war crimes during the country's bitter war between the Islamic government and mostly non-Muslim rebels in the south. The firm is under a judge's orders not to discuss the case, but in a court rebuttal of the new allegations obtained by the Citizen, it calls the charges false and "grossly misleading."

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Article
21 September 2005

[PDF] The Unocal Settlement: Implications for the Developing Law on Corporate Complicity in Human Rights Abuses

Author: Rachel Chambers, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University [Australia], in Human Rights Brief, Washington College of Law, American University

This article will examine the Unocal litigation as part of the international movement to make transnational corporations accountable for human rights violations. Specifically, it argues that a corporation’s role in such violations creates indirect legal liability to victims, even if the direct harm was caused by another party. [also refers to lawsuits against Shell, Talisman Energy, Barclays, Citigroup, Rio Tinto]

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Article
2 September 2005

Alien Tort Action Survives Concerns of U.S., Canada

Author: Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal

The opposition of the U.S. State Department and the government of Canada to a lawsuit against a Canadian oil company [Talisman] over human rights abuses in the Sudan was not enough to convince a federal judge to dismiss the case.

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Article
30 August 2005

New York judge lets Talisman Energy genocide case proceed despite warnings from Canada, U.S.

Author: Larry Neumeister, Associated Press

A judge on Tuesday allowed a church's lawsuit alleging that a Canadian energy company aided genocide in its pursuit of oil in Sudan to proceed despite efforts by the United States and Canada to have it dismissed...U.S. District Judge Denise Cote noted...that documents from the U.S. and Canadian governments did not suggest that the civil case against Talisman and the Republic of the Sudan would hinder U.S. relations with Canada or the Sudan.

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Article
18 August 2005

How oil drives the genocide in Darfur [Sudan]

Author: David Morse, in Sudan Tribune

...Darfurian villages have been burned to clear the way for drilling and pipelines, and to remove any possible sanctuaries for rebels.

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