June 8, 2009

Damning Evidence Reveals Shell’s Complicity In Crimes Against Humanity;

Landmark Case Resolved in Favor of Ogoni Plaintiffs After 14 Year Legal Battle

Ogoni supporters sing a solidarity anthem ahead of the human rights case in New York, 27 May 2009New 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 federal courthouse for the Southern District of New York, where Shell was due to face trial for human rights abusesThe next phase of the struggle continues with another case involving 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 in the Netherlands 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 puts 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.”

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

Pictures of global protests ahead of the trial are available. Please contact us.
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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.


  1. Ariela Alves

    This is an historic event indeed!it tells this multinational companies that enough is enough!
    i´m glad i´m here to witness this day!
    greetings from Mozambique!

  2. tatum

    Ok…so let me recap my understanding…
    the Nigerian government murders 9 activists and the family of the only one who was famous decides sue the closest entity that has any money. then, a liberal panel 5,000 miles away from anything relevant to the case decides the previous ruling in favor of Shell (and in favor of legal sanity, for that matter) should be overturned. Shell grows tired of the 14 year inconvenience and decides to settle for a pittance, and you people call it justice.
    if this is your brand of justice, then i wonder what it is you are really fighting for. do you know what $15MM means to a $170B market cap company? Its a rounding error, if even that.
    I support your cause and I appreciate that there are people like Saro-Wiwa and his kin to say the things that most are afraid to say, but this “victory” rings so hollow in light of the fact that the real murderers will remain unpunished and at large.

  3. J

    Delighted with this breakthrough!! Lead story too on Channel 4 news
    Keep up the good work!

  4. tatum

    i should really update my last thread to say I WAS a supporter of your cause, that is until a piddly $15MM was accepted in a settlement where the plaintiff remains INNOCENT and in no way admitting wrongdoing of any kind.

    I thought this was about getting the heart of a genuinely urgent human rights issue. Disappointingly, it appears that its really about little more than $7.5MM split 8 ways.

    Actually, it will probably be closer to $3.5MM split 8 ways. the US will tax about $6MM, then $5mm of that will go to the Sarowiwa fund, then the lawyers have to be paid, what are you left with? very, very little. and you have now indemnified Shell in perpetuity.

    I hope that the last 14 years of fighting for this “victory” was worth it.

  5. tatum

    Ben, I appreciate your response and wish you luck.

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