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The Wiwa family lawsuits against Royal Dutch Shell are three separate lawsuits brought by the family of Ken Saro-Wiwa against Royal Dutch Shell, its subsidiary Shell Nigeria and the subsidiary's CEO Brian Anderson, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Alien Tort Statute, the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1992 and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). They are charged with complicity in human rights abuses against the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta, including summary execution, crimes against humanity, torture, inhumane treatment, arbitrary arrest, wrongful death, and assault and battery. The lawsuits were filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel from EarthRights International in 1996, and after 12 years of Shell petitioning the court not to hear the cases, they were heard 26 May 2009.
The particular incidents raised in these cases were:
- the 1995 judicial hangings of the Ogoni Nine, leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP);
- the torture and detention of Owens Wiwa and Michael Tema Vizor;
- the shooting of a woman, Karololo Kogbara, who was peacefully protesting the bulldozing of her crops in preparation for a Shell pipeline, and another female protester, Uebari N-nahby by Nigerian troops allegedly called in by Shell.
American photojournalist Ed Kashi's images from the book Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta were deposed as evidence of the human rights abuses that the oil industry, particularly Shell, has inflicted on the Ogoni people.
On June 8, 2009, Shell settled out-of-court with the Saro-Wiwa family for $15.5 million. Ben Amunwa, director of the Remember Saro-Wiwa organization, said that "No company, that is innocent of any involvement with the Nigeria military and human rights abuses, would settle out of court for 15.5 million dollars. It clearly shows that they have something to hide".
Shell stated the payment was a humanitarian gesture and a gesture of sympathy, denying culpability in the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa death and the deaths of the other so-called Ogoni Nine.
- "New York trial delayed for Nigerians suing Shell". Shell International B.V.. 2009-04-06. http://uk.reuters.com/article/rbssEnergyNews/idUKN0641522820090406?sp=true.
- Mouawad, Jad (2009-06-08). "Shell to Pay $15.5 Million to Settle Nigerian Case". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/09/business/global/09shell.html?ref=global. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
- "Saro-Wiwa's son: Justice is always hard won". CNN.com. 2009-06-09. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/06/09/saro-wiwa.transcript/. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
- Did Shell collaborate in Nigerian executions? Channel 4 report hosted at The Real News. June 10, 2009
- "Shell settles Wiwa case with humanitarian gesture". Shell.com. 2009-06-08. http://www.shell.com/home/content/media/news_and_library/press_releases/2009/shell_settlement_wiwa_case_08062009.html. Retrieved 2009-06-09.[dead link]
- BBC report on case
- BBC report on background to case
- Wiwa v. Shell - Official website (joint project of the Center for Constitutional Rights and EarthRights International)
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- Earth Rights International
- Correspondence between Shell and the Nigeria Police
- Why I'm Suing Shell, article by Ken Wiwa (son of Saro-Wiwa)
- Royal Dutch Shell to go to Trial for Complicity in Torture and Murder of Nigerian Protesters
- Selection of Court documents for pending trial
- ShellGuilty coalition