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U.S. Judge thwarts attempt by Shell lawyers to dismiss Ogoni charges of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘torture’ against Royal Dutch Shell

By John Donovan
Monday 9 October 2006

An attempt by Shell lawyers to have certain counts dismissed in a class action brought by Ogoni Plaintiffs resident in the USA has been only partly successful. 

In an Order dated 29 September 2006, United States District Judge, Kimba M. Wood, granted a motion to dismiss the counts of extrajudicial killings, rights to life and property destruction. However, the Judge denied Shell’s motion to dismiss counts of crimes against humanity, torture and arbitrary arrest and detention. 

Full information about the above decision and leave to appeal can be found in the relevant Court Order: U.S. Ogoni/Shell Court Order 29 Sept 2006

(Acrobat Reader is needed to access the US Court Order. Please be patient when downloading. To download the FREE Acrobat Reader click on the following link:

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Background

The case has been pending for over four years. Discovery has been extensive and is ongoing.

The original complaint was brought before the same court – The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York – on 20 September 2002. It  alleged that during the period of October 1, 1990 to May 28, 1999 Shell engaged in militarised actions in a conspiracy with the former Military Government of Nigeria and knowingly instigated, planned, facilitated and participated in unprovoked attacks against the unarmed residents of Ogoniland, resulting in extra judicial murder, crimes against humanity, torture, rape, arbitrary arrest and detention, forced exile and the deliberate destruction of villages and property.

The Plaintiffs, all Ogoni resident in the USA are seeking an unspecified amount of money as compensation and punitive damages from Shell on behalf of all Ogoni persons – man, woman and child who were similarly situated and whose human rights were violated by Shell’s actions in this period.

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