Amnesty International has thrown its weight behind two Niger Delta Communities for instituting a suit against Shell over oil spills.
More than 13,500 residents from the Ogale and Bille communities which have been devastated by oil spills have filed claims against Shell at the High Court in London.
They asked that the company clean up oil spills which they say have wrecked their livelihoods, poisoned their wells, and polluted their land and water, which means they can no longer farm or fish, a move Amnesty International has backed.
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“Amnesty stands by these two communities in the Niger Delta, which have been engaged in litigation against Shell for seven years, asking that the company clean up the damage caused and compensate them for their lost livelihoods,” Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights Mark Dummett said.
He added, “Shell announced in 2021 that it plans to sell its onshore oilfields and assets in the Niger Delta after 60 years of highly profitable operations in the area. It is concerning that Shell has not explained how it plans to address the widespread and systemic pollution of Nigerian communities linked to its operations over many years before it sells up and leaves.
“This case is now proceeding to trial to determine whether Shell’s parent company in London, as well as its Nigerian subsidiary the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), is legally responsible for the harm caused to the communities in Nigeria.”
Also reacting, the Director of Amnesty International, Nigeria, Osai Ojigho said: “Had this level of contamination and pollution occurred in Europe or North America, it is hard to imagine that there would not have been swift and severe consequences and legal redress.
“Shell should clean up the pollution the oil has caused in these communities and compensate those whose livelihoods have been devastated and whose health has been harmed.”
Another Niger Delta community, Bodo, had with the help of Amnesty International taken legal action against Shell over two massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009.
Shell eventually admitted it had made false statements about the size of the spills and settled out of court, paying the community £55 million in compensation.