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New report exposes Shell complicity in Nigerian human rights abuses

Graphics from the Guardian article: Unloveable Shell, the Goddess of Oil

By John Donovan

Monday, 3 October 2011

Shell fueled human rights abuses in Nigeria by paying huge contracts to armed militants, according to a new report published today by Platform and a coalition of NGOs and featured in The Guardian.

This evening we received an email of thanks from Ben Amunwa of platformlondon.org. Ben is the author of the 41 page report called Counting the Cost, which uncovers how Shell’s routine payments to armed militants exacerbated conflicts, in one case leading to the destruction of Rumuekpe town where it is estimated that at least 60 people were killed.

Shell also continues to rely on Nigerian government forces who have perpetrated systematic human rights abuses against local residents, including unlawful killings, torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

What writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa dubbed the “slick alliance” between oil multinationals and the Nigerian military is alive and harmful as ever. Shell’s operations remain inextricably linked to human rights violations committed by government forces. The Nigerian government, driven to keep oil revenues flowing and working in close partnership with oil multinationals, has heavily militarised the Delta. Shell alone has hired over 1,300 government forces as armed guards. For communities, the impacts have been devastating and are in addition to ongoing environmental damage from oil spills and gas flaring.

Commenting on the report, Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth International said: “Shell’s obligations are clear: it must clean up after decades of devastating oil spills, end the illegal practice of gas flaring and compensate the victims of human rights abuses in Nigeria. It is unacceptable that Shell continues to deny responsibility, while pushing communities deeper into poverty and fuelling destructive conflicts.”

“Shell’s divisive practices have led to daily human rights violations in the Niger Delta,” added Geert Ritsema from Friends of the Earth Netherlands. “Many of the victims have no access to justice and cannot afford to take the oil giant to court. Lawsuits in Nigeria can take decades to resolve and the remedies are often inadequate. Yet Shell must be held accountable for its environmental destruction and complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria, and home governments like the UK and Netherlands must ensure that remedies are available and accessible to the victims.”

Interviews with Ben Amunwa and the former Royal Dutch Shell Group Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, will be aired during a related feature on the BBC World Service “Business Daily” at 8.30am tomorrow, Tuesday 4 October.

I have been reporting on these disturbing matters since 2007 e.g. Is Shell skulduggery in Nigeria pumping up global oil prices?: 18 July 2007. The astonishing revelations in my article came from a high level manager inside Shell Nigeria.

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