Oil companies are a danger to humanity. They steal, they pollute, they’ve hooked the planet’s people on a nonrenewable energy source, and to enforce their reign, they ravage human rights. The multinational Royal Dutch Shell, which abetted torture and murder in Nigeria, will now finally stand trial in the U.S. for its actions.
When Shell first helped itself to land in the Ogoni people’s area of Nigeria in 1958, it began contaminating the local water supply and agricultural land. In later decades, the company collaborated with the Nigerian military and police to violently suppress protest. This led to the internationally condemned government hanging of nine activists in 1995, including celebrated writer Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Shell’s public day of reckoning will come 14 years late, but it will arrive — thanks to the persistence of the families of the murdered activists, other Nigerians, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. Chief Judge Kimba Maureen Wood of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan has scheduled trial for Feb. 9, 2009.
The Shell case is especially important coming soon after a December acquittal for U.S.-based Chevron, charged with similar deadly crimes against Nigeria protesters. To get more information about this crucial battle for human rights and the environment, visit www.ccrjustice.org.