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In a landmark case which could open up the doors to allow more poor communities to file compensation claims against international oil companies, on Thursday four Nigerian villagers took Royal Dutch Shell to court.
The fishermen and farmers claim that Shell has polluted land and waters in the Niger Delta to such an extent that nothing now grows.
Shell claims that it cannot be held responsible for the leaks because they were caused by sabotage to the pipes, as local thieves tried to steal the oil flowing within. Shell actually claims that their job of attempting to clean up the spills is now over, despite the fact that the environment remains polluted.
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This case is special because the plaintiffs have decided not to sue the company contracted to operate the pipelines in their country, but rather they are directly suing the parent company in their home country; in this case Royal Dutch Shell in Amsterdam.
Geert Ritsema, the international affairs coordinator at Friends of the Earth, commented that the case “opens up a range of possibilities for people from poor countries to use the legal system to seek compensation from companies,"
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com