A United Kingdom High Court will on Thursday rule on whether two Niger Delta communities whose environment and means of livelihood were destroyed by oil spills can have their claims against Shell heard in the UK.
The case, according to a statement by the Amnesty International, could set a precedent for holding other UK-based multinationals to account for abuses committed overseas.
“This ruling will have wide-ranging implications for corporations based in the UK that abuse human rights abroad. If the court rules that the communities cannot have their case heard in the UK, it would effectively be a green light for UK multinationals to profit from human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world,” Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, Audrey Gaughran, said.
Two separate legal actions have been brought against Shell on behalf of more than 42,000 people from the Ogale and Bille communities in Nigeria’s Rivers State, who live with appalling pollution caused by oil spills.
Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, SPDC, argued that the case is outside UK jurisdiction and should be heard in Nigeria. Amnesty International and other organisations have exposed how rural communities affected by oil pollution frequently face insurmountable challenges when trying to take Shell to court in Nigeria.
In a November 3, 2015, report, ‘Clean it up: Shell’s False claims about oil spills in the Niger Delta, Amnesty International documented ongoing contamination at four oil spill sites, and alleged that the oil giant did not clean up the affected areas years ago as claimed.