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Friends of the Earth

Monday October 10, 2008

Dear friends,

Today, it is 13 years ago that Ken Saro Wiwa was executed. Our struggle continues.

Last Friday, four Nigerian citizens filed a unique lawsuit against Shell-headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. The Nigerian fishermen and farmers suffer major damage from oil spills.

A lot of information on the law suit, including new investigations, can be found on

(click on the ‘English’ button)

The launch of the case created pretty much attention from international media: Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, Dow Jones newswire and yet to come maybe Al Jazeera television.

All of you have helped to make this case possible or showed interest in this case. Thank you so much! If you want some more information, I would be happy to respond to your questions.

all the best,

Albert ten Kate

corporates campaigner

Friends of the Earth Netherlands

Tel: +31-20-5507 349

Mobile: +31-618 568 354

P O Box 19199, 1000 GD Amsterdam

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Friends of the Earth Netherlands


– Dutch lawyer: Shell-headquarters negligent in Nigeria

– Nigerians plaintiffs: We are victims of Shell oil spills

– New investigation: Nigerian villages heavily polluted

THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS — November 5, 2008 – Four Nigerian citizens, Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Nigeria will file a unique lawsuit against Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell in The Hague on Friday 7 November.

For the first time in history Shell’s international headquarters will have to appear in court to respond to charges of causing environmental damage abroad. The Nigerian plaintiffs, fishermen and farmers from the oil-rich Niger Delta area, suffered from the effects of oil spills related to Shell oil operations.

On November 7, their Dutch lawyer will serve a summons on Shell, accusing it of negligence. New investigation shows that the villages of the Nigerian plaintiffs have been heavily polluted and that Shell has not adhered to international standards for ‘good oil field practice’ in Nigeria. Two of the Nigerian plaintiffs are in the Netherlands November 3-7, 2008.

The lawyer of the plaintiffs, Liesbeth Zegveld from the office of Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden in Amsterdam, asked Shell headquarters in May this year to clarify its role in oil spills in Nigeria. Shell´s reaction to this enquiry was unsatisfactory; its headquarters passed all juridical responsibility on to Nigeria.

Liesbeth Zegveld said: “Shell headquarters believes it is untouchable, but we believe it is legally responsible for damage caused in Nigeria. Shell headquarters has the authority and control to ensure that its oil spills in Nigeria are prevented and cleaned up. We accuse Shell of negligence.”

Two Nigerian professors recently investigated the soil in the villages of the Nigerian plaintiffs, Ikot Ada Udo, Oruma and Goi. From their investigations it appears that – respectively 10, 24 and 33 months after the oil spills – soil and water could not be used for agriculture or fishing because it still contained too much oil. Investigations by American professor and oil spills expert Rick Steiner show that Shell did not meet international standards for ‘good oil field practice’ in Nigeria.

Anne van Schaik, campaign leader of Milieudefensie / Friends of the Earth Netherlands said: “Here Shell would never treat people and the environment in the way it does in Nigeria. We hope that the Dutch judge will decide that Shell must clean up the pollution and that the victims must be compensated properly.”

Nnimmo Bassey, director of Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria said: “Shell hardly notices Nigerian court orders. We want a Dutch court to ensure that justice is done against Royal Dutch Shell.”

Shell’s oil production in Nigeria causes on average five oil spills per week, in an area that is smaller than the Netherlands. Every spill releases on average 16 thousand litres of crude oil into the environment.

According to Shell a third of the spills in Nigeria are caused by human mistakes and inadequate maintenance of the oil installations, and two thirds are caused by sabotage. All spills from Shell operations in Nigeria have to be cleaned up by Shell.

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