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Shell: Corporate Impunity Goes On Trial

Shell: Corporate Impunity Goes On Trial

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Published by Redza
Multinationals accused of human rights abuses can no longer feel safe now that the oil giant is facing allegations of complicity in the
execution of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
George Monbiot - Guardian UK
Multinationals accused of human rights abuses can no longer feel safe now that the oil giant is facing allegations of complicity in the
execution of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
George Monbiot - Guardian UK

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Published by: Redza on May 05, 2009
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06/16/2009

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Shell: corporate impunity goes on trial
Multinationals accused of human rights abuses can no longer feelsafe now that the oil giant is facing allegations of complicity in theexecution of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa
Shell: corporate impunity goes on trial | Environment | guardian.co.ukhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/apr/07/shell-...1 of 35/6/2009 12:20 AM
 
Shell to appear before a US court. Photograph: James Boardman/Public DomainCould this be the beginning of the end of the age of impunity? Fourteen years after the judicial murder of the Nigerian novelist, environmentalist and human rights activist,Ken Saro-Wiwa, Shell is about to go on trial in New York, accused of complicity in hisexecution. This represents a remarkable moment in the struggle between people andmultinational corporations. Regardless of the outcome of the trial, the fact that one of the planet's most powerful companies finds itself in the dock changes everything. Fromnow on, no transnational corporation involved in possible human rights abuses will feelcompletely safe.Ken Saro-Wiwa, with eight other Ogoni rights activists, was executed by Nigeria'smilitary dictatorship in 1995. The men were a constant irritant to the generals,reminding the world that their lands in the Niger Delta were being wrecked and theirhealth and livelihoods destroyed by gas flaring, oil spills and military attacks.Imprisonment and beatings failed to shut them up. So the government constructed falsecharges against these men, paid people to pose as witnesses and hanged them.The plaintiffs claim that Shell, which still has major operations in the Niger Delta, paidNigerian troops to terrorise the Ogoni and bribed two of the witnesses at the trial of theactivists. Shell denies these charges and claims it intervened to try to stop theexecutions, but there is no doubt that it worked alongside one of Africa's most brutalregimes. It also continues to pollute the Ogoni's land today by burning off the gas fromits oil wells and this was one of the subjects over which I clashed with Shell's chief executive Jeroen van der Veer during our fierce exchange a little while ago. Aside from the damage to the health of the Ogoni and their environment, gas flaring inNigeria produces more carbon dioxide than all other activities in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. One day, perhaps, that might be the subject of a lawsuit too. What this trial shows is that people like the Ogoni, though they may be poor and thoughthey may possess little power, can no longer be treated as disposable. For two centuriescorporations and governments from the rich world have treated the people they 
Shell: corporate impunity goes on trial | Environment | guardian.co.ukhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/apr/07/shell-...2 of 35/6/2009 12:20 AM

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