US suit accusing Shell of improper activity in Nigeria to proceed

A Second Circuit US Court of Appeals ruling will allow a lawsuit claiming Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. aided and abetted the torture and murder of Nigerian activists who opposed drilling on their lands to be heard in the US, said a report by Mark Hamblett in the New York Law Journal. The case, filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act, alleges violations of the international law of human rights, said Hamblett.


A Second Circuit US Court of Appeals ruling will allow a lawsuit claiming Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. aided and abetted the 1995 torture and murder of Nigerian activists who opposed drilling on their lands to be heard in the US, said a report by Mark Hamblett in the New York Law Journal. The case, filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act, alleges violations of the international law of human rights, said Hamblett.

The appeals court reversed a lower court finding that the US Southern District of New York was an "inconvenient forum" to hear the suit, saying the court failed to give consideration to the choice of a US forum by US resident plaintiffs and to the interests of the United States in providing a forum for the adjudication of claims alleging international human rights abuses.

Wiwa vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. deals with allegations by family members of executed Nigerian political opposition leader Ken Saro-Wiwa, some of whom have moved to the US, that Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Shell Transport & Trading Co. PLC�which jointly control and operate the multinational Royal Dutch/Shell Group, among whose affiliates is Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria Ltd.�directly or indirectly participated in human rights violations that were part of a Nigerian government "campaign of terror" against those who fought oil exploration in the Ogoni region of Nigeria.

Royal Dutch is incorporated in the Netherlands, and Shell Transport & Trading is incorporated in the UK.

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