Friday, May 29, 2009

The Video Shell Doesn't Want You to See

In an article published on The Huffington Post, Han Shan writes that Royal Dutch Shell (Shell Gasoline) has done everything possible to stop a trial regarding the company’s role in human rights abuses committed in Nigeria. The lawsuit against Shell indicates that the company collaborated with the Nigerian Military to commit serious and sometimes fatal human rights abuses against Nigerian citizens.

The history of these abuses dates back thirteen years. In the Niger Delta Region Ogoni, Shell Corporation, along with the Nigerian military, allegedly conspired to bring about the conviction and execution of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues. This raises the question: why is Shell so intimately involved with Nigerian politics and the Nigerian military? Essentially, the plaintiff in this lawsuit contends that the company acted to protect its profits, as local people were protesting and demanding an end to the pollution and harm that Shell and the Nigerian military were causing the region.

The trial was supposed to begin in the United States on May 27, 2009. However, there was a last minute announcement that postponed the trial, though proceedings are expected to commence in early June. Nevertheless, Shell seems to be doing everything in its power to disrupt this case.

Shell filed a motion to stop human rights attorney Paul Hoffman from serving as trial counsel for the plaintiffs. According to Shan, “As standard procedure for a trial of this kind, Hoffman had filed a "pro hac vice" application with the court. The Latin pro hac vice is a legal term meaning "for this occasion," and refers to the lawyer being granted permission to serve in a state where he or she may not hold a law license. In this case, California-based Hoffman was filing to represent the plaintiffs in federal court in New York.” The courts denied Shell’s motion; however, they ruled against the plaintiffs concerning a video appearing on

This video, produced by Rikshaw films, airs Shell’s dirty laundry, portraying the corporation as capitalist murderers who made numerous deals with the Nigerian military resulting in the slaughter of many innocent people. The film suggests that many of the civilians who died wanted only to protect their land and stop the corporation from taking over.

So my question is: why is Shell working so hard to avoid going to trial over these accusations? I received my answer by watching the video that explains the situation on YouTube. Watch the video, and then you be the judge.

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