World News

    Dutch Court Largely Rejects Nigerians' Case Against Shell

    Friends of the Earth campaign leader Geert Ritsema, second left, and plaintiff Eric Dooh, left, give a statement after the ruling in the court case of Nigerian farmers against Shell, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 30, 2013. Friends of the Earth campaign leader Geert Ritsema, second left, and plaintiff Eric Dooh, left, give a statement after the ruling in the court case of Nigerian farmers against Shell, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 30, 2013.
    x
    Friends of the Earth campaign leader Geert Ritsema, second left, and plaintiff Eric Dooh, left, give a statement after the ruling in the court case of Nigerian farmers against Shell, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 30, 2013.
    Friends of the Earth campaign leader Geert Ritsema, second left, and plaintiff Eric Dooh, left, give a statement after the ruling in the court case of Nigerian farmers against Shell, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 30, 2013.
    VOA News
    A Dutch court has largely dismissed a bid by Nigerian farmers to hold oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell responsible for pollution in their villages in the Niger Delta.

    The court in The Hague said only the company's subsidiary, Nigerian Shell, will have to pay damages because it did not adequately protect against sabotage in one case.  It rejected all claims against the parent company, saying that under Nigerian law, Shell was not responsible unless it operated with negligence.

    The farmers first brought the case in 2008 along with the environmental group Friends of the Earth, seeking to force Shell to clean up the pollution from oil spills that devastated vegetation, water supplies and fishing ponds.

    But Shell said it was doing all it could to contain the impact of its operations, and that the spills are largely the work of sabotage by armed gangs who hack into pipelines.

    Allard Castelein, Shell's vice president for environment, says the company is pleased with the ruling.  

    "It is clear that both the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the local venture, Shell Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria, has been proven right in the sense that neither the parent company is liable nor responsible," said Castelein.

    Activists had seen the case as a test of whether international companies can be held liable for alleged offenses by their foreign subsidiaries.

    Nigerian lawyer and activist Ebun Adegboruwa said the one ruling against Nigerian Shell may make it easier for farmers to pursue claims in Nigerian courts.

    "Farmers, land farmers in a host of communities who on a daily basis are subjected to the eclipse of their farmland and the environment have the opportunity now to challenge Shell not only in the Hague but particularly in Nigeria, because now the Nigerian courts will have courage," said Adegboruwa. "If it can be done in a foreign land, there is no reason why our judges should be afraid to do it in our land."  

    The level of damages for Nigerian Shell will be established at a future hearing.

    Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth says it plans to appeal.  

    The farmers are from the Ogoniland region of southern Nigeria, which for decades has been a major source of crude oil.  Shell is the top multinational company operating in the area.

    In 2011, the United Nations published a report blaming the Nigerian government and multinational companies - especially Shell - for devastating environmental impacts in the Niger Delta.  It said cleaning up the area would take $1 billion and 25 years.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora