Thursday, May 7, 2009

Judge recognizes claim vs. Shell Petroleum for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity

Just a few days ago, I posted the news that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit that claims a Boeing subsidiary helped the CIA transport prisoners to overseas prisons for torture. See here. Today, is reporting that a federal judge has cleared one of the last obstacles to a May trial for families of Nigerian environmental activists who are seeking to hold a Dutch oil company liable for violations of international law committed by the Nigerian military government. In what will be one of the first times, if not the first time, that a corporation goes on trial for crimes against humanity, Southern District of New York Judge Kimba Wood rejected all but one motion to dismiss by Shell Petroleum, N.V. and other defendants in Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 96 Civ. 8386 and Wiwa v. Anderson, 01 Civ. 1909. Filed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victim Protection Act, the complaints in the two cases contend that the defendants, Shell Petroleum, N.V., recruited Nigerian police and military to attack villages and crush opposition to the company's development in the region. While the plaintiffs are seeking to hold the company vicariously liable, they are attempting to hold directly liable Brian Anderson, the head of the company's Nigerian operation. For the full story go here.

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