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Esher Kiobel v Shell article published in Dutch FT

The Nigerian Esther Kiobel will drag Shell before the Netherlands courts in a civil lawsuit. She holds the oil company responsible for complicity in the death of her husband Barinem Kiobel in 1995.
Kiobel has returned to the US courts years after a legal action against Shell. With a view to a trial in the Netherlands Kiobel requested access to documents in the American action that were introduced by Shell. Kiobel claims these documents can prove that Shell colluded with the Nigerian regime to commit human rights violations. A US judge has approved in late December a request to use the documents in a Dutch court.
The Dutch lawyer Channa Samkalden representing Kiobel in the Netherlands, says that the aim is to start the case in the Netherlands’ in the first months of this year.  “In the case going to Shell’s liability will be due to the role of the company at the events that led to the death of Kiobels husband,” says Samkalden.

Human Rights Violations

Barinem Kiobel along with environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and seven others who were protesting against oil exploration in the Niger Delta, were executed by the Nigerian military. Because Shell according to Kiobel supported and provided funding to the army in the fight against groups protesting against oil companies in the Niger Delta, the company was complicit in his death.

In 2009, Shell settled a US case for more than $ 15 million with some relatives of the executed Nigerians, who were known as the Ogoni nine, but the case of Kiobel did not lead to a settlement. The US Supreme Court, however, ruled in 2013 that it had no jurisdiction to rule on her claims.

Shell claims to adhere strictly to the support of fundamental human rights. “We have always denied in the strongest possible way the allegations made by the plaintiffs in this tragic case,” said a spokesman in response to earlier allegations in the lawsuit in the US.

Nigerian Farmers

Kiobel will demand compensation, but according Samkalden is aiming ‘especially for recognition of the injustice ” in Nigeria. “After all these years Kiobel is still searching for justice. It is a terrible blot on the history of Shell in Nigeria. It’s as clear as daylight that there are things that can not happen. “

The case of Kiobel against Shell is not the only case related to Nigeria being pursued in the Netherlands. Samkalden also represents four Nigerian farmers and Vereniging Milieudefensie proceedings against Shell due to oil pollution in Nigeria. Shell also has to also hand over documents in that case that “We are now bickering about,” says Samkalden. “Large parts of the documents have been blacked out by Shell. The court bends over here now.”

Bribery Scandal

In addition to these lawsuits Shell in another case has been criticised by the Italian Ministry of Justice. The Italian prosecutor in Milan wants to sue Shell for crimes involving four former executives of the oil company Shell who have allegedly committed a major Nigerian bribery scandal on behalf of their employer. 


The above is a *non-professional translation of an article published by Het Financiële Dagblad  (the Dutch Financial Times). It should not be considered as anything other than a rough indication of the article content. The original article in Dutch can be viewed here.  For legal reasons, I inserted the word “allegedly” in the last paragraph. It does not seem to appear in the actual article. 

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