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Damning Evidence Reveals Shell’s Complicity with Crimes Against Humanity; Landmark Case Resolved in Favor of Families of Executed Nigerian Environmental Leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and Others After 13 Year Legal Battle

June 9, 2009

U.S. (DC): Steve Kretzmann, Oil Change International, +1-202-497-1033; [email protected]
U.S. (NY): Han Shan, Oil Change International, +1-917-418-4133, [email protected]
U.S. (DC): Elizabeth Bast, Friends of the Earth U.S., +1-202-222-0719, [email protected]
U.K. (London): Ben Amunwa, PLATFORM/Remember Saro-Wiwa, +44-207-357-0055, +44-7891-454-714, [email protected]

New York– After legal battles lasting nearly fourteen years, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has been forced to pay a $15.5 million out-of-court settlement. Plaintiffs from the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta have successfully held Shell accountable for complicity in human rights atrocities committed against the Ogoni people in the 1990s, including the execution of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The legal action is one of the few cases brought under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute that have been resolved in favor of the plaintiffs. The settlement includes establishment of a $5 million trust to benefit local communities in Ogoni.

“We congratulate the plaintiffs on their victory. Let there be no doubt that Shell has emerged guilty. With this settlement, Shell is seeking to keep the overwhelming evidence of its crimes away from the scrutiny of a jury trial,” said Ben Amunwa from the UK-based Remember Saro-Wiwa project. “Shell could not stand the damage of bad publicity around this human rights case. Global campaigners have helped to highlight Shell’s abuses and we share in this historic victory.”

“Shell is guilty. Despite this victory, justice will not be served in Ogoni and throughout the Delta until the gas flares are put out, the spills cleaned up, and the military stops protecting the oil companies and starts serving the people,” said Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International. “This issue will not be solved until these legitimate grievances of the community are addressed.”

“This case should be a wake up call to multinational corporations that they will be held accountable for violations of international law, no matter where they occur,” said Han Shan, ShellGuilty Campaign Coordinator for Oil Change International.

The next phase of the struggle continues with another case with an Ogoni plaintiff pending in the New York District Court, and a further legal action in The Hague, Netherlands, where Royal Dutch Shell is headquartered. The company faces a legal action there for repeated oil spills, brought by residents of the Niger Delta, with support from Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

“Shell will be dragged from the boardroom to the courthouse, time and again, until the company addresses the injustices at the root of the Niger Delta crisis and put an end to its environmental devastation,” said Elizabeth Bast, International Program Director for Friends of the Earth U.S. “Communities, human rights lawyers and activists will continue to demand justice with the same determination and hope shown by Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people.”

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The ShellGuilty campaign is a coalition effort of Friends of the Earth (, Oil Change International (, and PLATFORM’s Remember Saro-Wiwa project (, with support from environmental and human rights groups in Nigeria, North America, and Europe. Visit for more information.


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