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SHELL ON HUMAN RIGHTS & FREEDOM OF SPEECH: SPIN VS. REALITY

By Alfred and John Donovan

Our outspoken friend, the former employee of Shell Oil USA, has raised the question of why Shell has not sued us for libel. Extracts from an article we published in February 2006 are informative on the subject. Since then, Shell was legally obliged to supply us with internal documents including one indicating that Shell decided long ago that it will never take legal action against us. Perhaps this is over concern about what Shell describes as “internal laundry” being aired in open court.

As will be seen, the attitude of Shell to free speech is unclear and seems to depend on whether they can sue in a country such as Malaysia, which has a corrupt judiciary.

With regard to its comments about Ken Saro-Wiwa, in June of this year Shell settled for $15.5 million a claim in the USA courts accusing the company of involvement in his murder.

THE HYPE & SPIN

THE RIGHTS OF NOBEL LAUREATE *KEN SARO-WIWA TO FREELY HOLD AND AIR HIS VIEWS (ABOUT SHELL):

EXTRACTS FROM Shell.com website:

“We did, however, speak out both publicly and privately about human rights issues on a number of occasions. For instance, during the trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis, we publicly stated that the accused had a right to a fair legal process. Before the trial, we said Ken Saro-Wiwa had a right to freely hold and air his views

THE RIGHTS OF ALFRED DONOVAN TO EXPRESS HIS OPINIONS (ABOUT SHELL)

FROM SHELL INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED LEGAL SUBMISSION TO THE WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION REGARDING THE WEBSITE OF ALFRED DONOVAN: 18 MAY 2005

“The Complainant and the Group it represents have been aware of the site since the beginning and whilst they would not endorse or agree with many of the comments made by the Respondent on the website, they have taken the view that the Respondent is entitled to express his opinions and to use the Internet as a medium for doing so.”

SHELL’S SUPPORT FOR THE UN UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (FROM THE SHELL DOCUMENT – BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: A MANAGEMENT PRIMER: © Shell International Petroleum Company (SIPC) 1998)

“We have also lent our support to international declarations and standards that were developed to foster human rights, including the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights…”

3.12. So what does all this mean for Shell companies and the individuals within those companies?

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

(The document republishes the entire text of The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights or UDHR – reproduced in full on pages 27-31)

Article 19

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

2.1 What Are Human Rights?

The key document providing an answer to this question is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR consists of a preamble
and thirty articles, which list both “civil and political rights” (such as the right to a fair trial, freedom from torture, freedom of conscience…

ENTRACTS FROM SHELL DOCUMENTS ENDS

THE REALITY i.e. WHAT SHELL MANAGEMENT DOES AS OPPOSED TO WHAT IT SAYS

EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies collectively obtained a HIGH COURT INJUNCTION and RESTRAINING ORDER against a former employee, Dr John Huong, a Malaysian who, driven by his conscience, blew the whistle on Shell management misdeeds including the fabrication of hydrocarbon reserves and health and safely issues which put Shell employee lives at risk. The sole purpose of the draconian litigation against this unemployed Malaysian, who was sidelined, humiliated and ultimately sacked for speaking the truth, was to prevent him exercising HIS RIGHTS to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression following his wrongful dismissal.

We also have evidence that Shell has succeeded in using the action against Dr Huong to frighten former Shell Malaysian employees from speaking out against the injustices heaped upon them by Shell. Several hundred of them, many elderly, sick, and dying, recently won a retirement funds case against Shell when a Judge ruled that Shell had acted “unlawfully” in making inappropriate deductions. Shell is however ruthlessly dragging out the case by appealing the judgment based on a legal loophole relating to time limits.

In June 2005 Shell had five Irishman – now known as the “Rossport Five”, jailed for 3 months for engaging in an entirely peaceful campaign against the Corrib pipeline project on entirely valid health and safety grounds. They were released after thousands of Irish people engaged in street protests in response to such oppressive behaviour by an arrogant multinational giant whose actions are dictated by a bungling management drunk on power and corrupted by greed.

This scandal ridden company has a reputation for incompetence, misjudgement and dishonesty (and as indicated above) blatant ruthlessness towards some Shell employees. Led by a CEO, Jeroen van der Veer, himself facing fraud allegations in the US courts, Shell has recently demonstrated breathtaking arrogance by indulging itself in a fleet of luxury jets. This is at a time when according to The Sunday Times, other multinationals are getting rid of their executive planes. It seems that the rights of some Shell employees – its ego driven bosses – are more important than others.

Thus the reality of Shell management actions is totally at odds with their Spin & Hype.

* Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by the evil Nigerian military regime which was closely associated with Shell at that time. Sir Philip Watts is being sued in connection with allegations that while head of Shell in Nigeria he personally helped to create and arm a 1400 strong private spy force. Furthermore, Shell has admitted that an undercover agent working for them carried out operations in Nigeria. His cover story involved making a film in Nigeria called “Business as Usual: the Arrogance of Power”, during which he interviewed friends of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Shell’s spy, German-born Manfred Schlickenrieder, engaged in espionage missions involving deception, sabotage, betrayal and intelligence gathering. Schlickenrieder was known by the code name Camus and had worked for the German foreign intelligence service gathering information about terrorist groups, including the Red Army Faction.

How such activities are compatible with Shell’s supposed commitment to ethical trading, human rights and its STATEMENT OF GENERAL BUSINESS PRINCIPLES is beyond my comprehension. The right of Ken Saro-Wiwa to the most basic human right of all – the right to live – was taken away from him in the most terrible circumstances.

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