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Shell Could Be Investigated For Complicity In Human Rights Abuses

Royal Dutch Shell should be investigated for its alleged complicity in abuses of human rights in Nigeria’s military suppressing protests in the oil-rich Niger Delta in the 1990s, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

The human rights organization is calling on Nigeria, the Netherlands, and the UK to start investigations into Shell “over its role in a swathe of horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military government in the oil-producing Ogoniland region in the 1990s.”

In the early 1990s, the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta protested against the pollution in their land coming from oil operations, and those protests were crushed by the Nigerian military.

Amnesty International released today a review of internal company documents and witness statements that allegedly show that “Shell repeatedly encouraged the Nigerian military to deal with community protests, even when it knew the horrors this would lead to – unlawful killings, rape, torture, the burning of villages,” Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, said. 

“It is indisputable that Shell played a key role in the devastating events in Ogoniland in the 1990s, but we now believe that there are grounds for a criminal investigation. Bringing the massive cache of evidence together was the first step in bringing Shell to justice. We will now be preparing a criminal file to submit to the relevant authorities, with a view to prosecution,” Amnesty said.

Related: The Oil Information Cartel Is (Finally) Broken

Shell has always denied claims that it has been involved in any way in these events. In a letter to Amnesty International in June this year, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said that the allegations are “false and without merit.”

“SPDC did not collude with the military authorities to suppress community unrest and in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence in Nigeria. In fact, the company believes that dialogue is the best way to resolve disputes. We have always denied these allegations, in the strongest possible terms,” Shell’s Nigerian unit said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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