Monday, June 8, 2009

Some accountability

There are moments that become etched into your mind. The day Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed is one of those. I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I had not really believed that they would actually go through and kill him. But they did. And now, fourteen years later, finally some small measure of accountability. Royal Dutch Shell, which had found Saro-Wiwa a turbulent irritant, settled rather than face a trial over complicity in Saro-Wiwa's death.

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.”

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