Jonathan Herman

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.

Jonathan Herman

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. is the legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether corporations can be sued for violations of international human rights law.

Kiobel was brought by 12 plaintiffs from the Ogoni region of Nigeria against Royal Dutch/Shell, more familiar as Shell Oil, for its alleged complicity in serious human rights abuses. The plaintiffs allege that Shell aided and abetted the military dictatorship in Nigeria in the early 1990s leading to their arbitrary arrest, detention and torture and, in the case of Dr. Barinem Kiobel, his wrongful execution. During this period, the Ogoni people supported a nonviolent movement to protest Shell’s despoliation of the Niger Delta and to demand that Shell and the Nigerian government halt the destruction and share the benefits of Nigeria’s oil wealth with the poverty-stricken Ogoni people. The plaintiffs allege that Shell provided financial and other assistance to the brutal Nigerian military, and worked together with the military, to target the plaintiffs for oppression and violence due to their association with this movement. Dr. Kiobel was executed alongside other well-known Ogoni leaders (the “Ogoni Nine”) after a sham trial that was condemned by foreign governments, including the U.S. and the U.K., as well as human rights organizations, and that directly led to Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations.

For more information on the Kiobel case, please visit http://corporateaccountabilitynow.org/