A federal jury in San Francisco cleared Chevron Corp. of wrongdoing Monday in the shootings of Nigerian villagers who occupied an offshore barge in 1998 to protest the company’s hiring and environmental policies. Two men were killed and two were wounded by security forces summoned by Chevron after three days of negotiations with leaders of about 150 tribesmen from the oil-rich Niger Delta. Go to full article
LATimes: Chevron cleared in 1998 shootings at Nigerian oil platform
A federal jury says the oil company can’t be held accountable for the fatal shootings of two unarmed protesters at an offshore oil platform. Plaintiffs say the firm paid the soldiers who opened fire.
A federal jury Monday cleared Chevron Corp. of any responsibility in the shooting of Nigerian villagers by military forces during a protest at an offshore oil platform, concluding a closely watched case brought under a seldom-invoked 1789 law allowing foreigners to sue in the United States. Go to full article.
Reuters: Jury clears Chevron of charges in Nigeria clash
By Braden Reddall
December 1, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A U.S. jury on Monday cleared Chevron Corp of liability charges arising from a violent clash on one of its oil platforms off the coast of Nigeria a decade ago.
The charges stemmed from May 1998 when about 100 local villagers, protesting environmental damage and demanding compensation and jobs, staged a three-day occupation of Chevron’s Parabe platform, nine miles off the coast. Go to full article
Huffington Post: Bowoto V Chevron – The Oil Men and the Juju Man:
By Scott Gilmore
November 14, 2008
What happens when an oil company gets its back to the wall in a human rights lawsuit? Like a cornered hound, it goes on the attack. That’s exactly what Chevron Corporation has done in the first three weeks of the Bowoto v. Chevron trial in San Francisco. Go To Article
Visit Scott’s daily Bowoto v Chevron Blog
Also see Huffington Post blogs by: Dan Firger and Andrew Woods
SF Bay Guardian: Chevron faces landmark human rights trial and angry voters just as profits peak
SF Chronicle: No hostages on Chevron barge, expert testifies
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The former chief hostage negotiator for New York City police, testifying as an expert in a trial over the shootings of Nigerian villagers on a Chevron oil barge, said Monday that the villagers were not holding employees hostage and that the company should not have summoned the Nigerian military.
“This probably was not a hostage situation. It was more like a civil disobedience or a sit-in,” Hugh McGowan, who now teaches classes to law enforcement officers nationwide on hostage negotiations, told a federal court jury in San Francisco. Go to Article
SF Chronicle: Chevron reports record profit for quarter
Saturday, November 1, 2008
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Chevron Corp. on Friday joined the parade of international oil companies reporting record quarterly profits this week, even as analysts warned that the industry’s winning streak was about to end.
Chevron, the country’s second-largest oil company, made $7.89 billion in profit for the year’s third quarter, more than twice its take from the same period last year. For the first nine months of 2008, the San Ramon company’s profit reached $19 billion, with sales of $222 billion. Go to Article
LA Times: Protester testifies about Nigerian troops shooting him at Chevron facility
Larry Bowoto, whose suit accuses the oil giant of human rights violations, says he was shot four times although unarmed. He is the lead plaintiff in the legal action.
By Richard Paddock, LA Times Staff Reporter
October 31, 2008
Reporting from San Francisco — A Nigerian villager who is suing Chevron Corp. for human rights violations testified in federal court Thursday that he was shot four times by Nigerian troops at a Chevron oil platform even though he was unarmed.
“I saw military men jump off a helicopter, and as they jumped off they were shooting,” Larry Bowoto, 44, testified through an interpreter. “I was raising my hands [and shouting], ‘We are community protesters. We are for peace. Don’t shoot us.’ “ Read Full Story
(In May 2008 the LA Times published an op-ed by Larry Bowoto explaining the incident 10 years ago that led to the law suit currently underway in San Francisco. Read Mr. Bowoto’s Op Ed from May 2008
The Economist: Test Case–How far can America’s legal system be applied to foreign human-rights cases?
Oct 30th 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO
From The Economist print edition
Under a grey sky on October 27th, Larry Bowoto provided an improbable splash of colour in his Nigerian agbada gown before the federal courthouse in San Francisco. He is the lead plaintiff in a case against Chevron, an oil giant based in California, over something that happened in May 1998 on a platform operated by Chevron’s Nigerian subsidiary, nine miles off the Niger Delta. Go to Article
Contra Costa Times: Protesters’ behavior at heart of trial on whether Chevron violated human rights
October 29, 2008
San Francisco: When Larry Bowoto returns to the witness stand in federal court here Thursday, he is expected to recount being shot several times by Nigerian forces called in and allegedly paid for by a Chevron subsidiary during a 1998 protest aboard a barge tethered to an offshore oil rig.
…. He said that he had been a fisherman, and that Chevron’s dredging had introduced salt water into a freshwater canal, affecting wells and killing fish and vegetation. As they approached the barge, Bowoto said, the protesters sang.
“All we are saying “… give us our rights,” Bowoto testified by singing in English. “All we are saying “… give us our jobs.” Go to Article
SF Chronicle: Chevron trial over Nigeria protest gets started
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Chevron Corp. unleashed a “notoriously brutal and vicious” Nigerian military force on peaceful protesters at an offshore oil rig in 1998, a lawyer for a group of villagers accusing the company of human-rights violations told jurors in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Two men were killed and two were wounded by shots fired by troops summoned by Chevron’s Nigerian subsidiary on the fourth day of a confrontation with more than 100 villagers. Jurors assessing the plaintiffs’ claims of assault, torture and wrongful death must decide whether to believe their description of a nonviolent demonstration or Chevron’s account of a violent hostage-taking. Go to Article
Reuters U.S. court told Chevron paid forces in Nigeria clash
By Jennifer Martinez
October 29, 2008
Chevron Corp fed, housed and paid Nigerian military forces involved in a deadly clash with local residents occupying an oil platform more than a decade ago, a jury was told on Tuesday at a federal trial in which the oil company is accused of human rights abuses. Go to Article
ground, the start of the trial and rally attracted a wide variety of media coverage:
LA Times Trial gets underway in human rights case against Chevron
Richard Paddock, LA Times Staff Writer
October 28, 2008
Opening statements began Tuesday in a trial over whether Chevron Corp. colluded with the Nigerian military in 1998, when troops broke up a protest at an offshore oil rig, killing two villagers.
The suit was brought under a federal law that allows foreigners to sue American companies for alleged human rights violations in other countries. The case in U.S. District Court is being closely watched by human rights advocates seeking to hold U.S. corporations accountable for their actions overseas. Go to Article
SF Chronicle Jury Seated in Chevron Trial
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
In court today, Chevron won permission to offer evidence of an alleged hostage-taking incident that it says supports its overall version of events. As Nigerian forces were shooting at some of the protesters, the company says, other villagers swam to a Chevron Nigeria tugboat and forced seven employees to take the craft to a village, where they were held captive for three days.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the incident, if it occurred, was irrelevant to the questions of whether the shootings were justified and whether Chevron was responsible. But U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said the company could present the incident to try to show that the entire protest was a violent takeover. Go to Article
Law.com: Judge: Chevron Must Remove Paid Google Link Tied to Search of Plaintiff’s Name
October 28, 2008
A widely watched trial over Chevron’s Nigerian operations featured a new online frontier Monday in the battle to influence the hearts and minds of potential jurors.
While imposing a general gag order, Northern District of California Judge Susan Illston ordered Chevron to take down a paid Google link sponsored by the company. Plaintiffs objected to the link, which directed Internet surfers to a Chevron-created Web site that provided information about the incident at issue in trial. Go to Article
The Industry Standard: Judge includes sponsored Google results in Chevron gag order
October 28, 2008
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston issued a gag order in the Bowoto v. Chevron case, claiming that the sponsored link to Chevron’s Web site for the case is the same as a statement to the press. The link, which appeared in Google search results for the plaintiff’s name, led to a site built by Chevron giving their side of the incident that led to the suit, where the company called in the Nigerian police when villagers took over an offshore oil platform. Three villagers were injured, and another was killed. Go To Article
KTVU: Chevron Trial Over Nigerian Barge Takeover Begins In SF
October 28, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO – A lawyer for Nigerian villagers told a federal jury in San Francisco Tuesday that protesters’ takeover of an offshore Chevron oil platform 10 years ago was a peaceful incident. Go To Article
Reuters Chevron on trail for 1998 platform clash
By Braden Reddall
October 27, 2008
… The dispute fits into a broader political discussion about the responsibilities of U.S. companies abroad. The head of a Senate subcommittee on human rights and the law argued last month at a hearing on corporate responsibility and natural resources that the issue was not “black and white.”
“There is no doubt that American oil, gas and mining companies operating in countries with poor human rights records face difficult challenges in protecting their employees and operations,” Sen. Richard Durbin said.
“However, when American companies choose to go into these countries, they assume a moral and legal obligation to ensure that security forces protecting their operations do not commit human rights abuses.” Go to Article
Oil & Gas Journal Chevron on trial in San Francisco for rights abuses
Oil Diplomacy Editor
October 27, 2008
Chevron Corp. is at the center of a legal case before federal court in San Francisco that will ask jurors to decide whether the firm sanctioned human rights abuses that resulted in the deaths and injuries of protesters at its Nigerian facilities, or whether the company was simply protecting its employees from belligerent kidnappers.
The lawsuit—identified as Bowoto vs. Chevron, No. C99-2506SI (N.D. Calif.)—alleges that Chevron, in conjunction with the Nigerian military, engaged in torture, assaults, and the killing of two protesters over Chevron’s environmental record and its failure to hire locals in the delta region near its oil drilling operations. Go to Article
Market Watch: Amazon Defense Coaltion: High-Stakes Trial in San Francisco Focuses Attention on Chevron’s Growing Human Rights Problems Around Globe
October 27, 2008
Chevron’s recent high-profile hiring of William J. Haynes, a former Bush Administration lawyer implicated in the torture scandal at Guantanamo Bay, is the latest sign that Chevron’s legal department has become increasingly callous to human rights concerns, said Kevin Koenig, an organizer with Amazon Watch, which monitors the company’s human rights and environmental record. Go to Article
Focus on protest deaths at Nigerian facility
An epic legal battle going to trial in federal court in San Francisco this week will ask jurors to decide whether oil giant Chevron Corp. sanctioned human rights abuses that killed and wounded protesters at its Nigerian facilities, or was simply protecting its employees from belligerent kidnappers. Go To Article
Denial of Visas for Key Witnesses in Chevron Trial Angers Federal Judge
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.Image: Jason Doiy/The Recorder
The National Law Journal
September 3, 2008
A federal judge late last week lashed out at the State Department’s denial of visas for more than a dozen Nigerian witnesses set to testify in a pending trial over allegations that Chevron Corp. aided the Nigerian military in human rights violations a decade ago. Full Story
US Court okays Chevron’s trial over killing, torture of Nigerians
Thursday, 08 May 2008
A UNITED States (U.S.) District Court yesterday rejected Chevron Corporation’s final bid to avoid prosecution over alleged involvement in brutal attacks on Nigerian villagers.
Nine Nigerian plaintiffs are suing Chevron in a federal court in San Francisco for deaths and other abuses in two incidents in 1998 and 1999, in which the Nigerian military and Police, paid by Chevron and using Chevron helicopters and boats, shot and tortured protesters and destroyed two villages allegedly associated with opposition to Chevron’s oil activities in the desperately poor Niger Delta.
The plaintiffs assert claims ranging from torture to wrongful death.The Judge, Susan Illston, found “evidence that CNL (Chevron Nigeria Limited) personnel were directly involved in the attacks; CNL transported the GSF (Nigerian government security forces), CNL paid the GSF; and CNL knew that GSF were prone to use excessive force,” concluding that the evidence would allow a jury to find not only that Chevron knew the attacks would happen and assisted in them, but also that it actually agreed to the military’s plan.
“We’re pleased that our clients will finally get justice for Chevron’s crimes,” said plaintiffs’ counsel, Theresa Traber, partner at Traber & Voorhees.
“Chevron conspired with and paid the notorious Nigerian military to attack our clients and their loved ones, murdering at least seven people, torturing others and burning two villages to the ground. The court correctly refused to let narrow legalistic excuses allow Chevron to escape responsibility for these brutal attacks,” Rick Herz, Litigation Co-ordinator at EarthRights International, added: “The court’s ruling reaffirms that corporations who are complicit in human rights abuses can be held accountable, regardless of where those abuses occur.”
Trial in the case, Bowoto v. Chevron Corp., No. 99-2506, is expected within the year. In addition to ERI and Traber & Voorhees, the plaintiffs are represented by the private law firms of Hadsell & Stormer and Siegel & Yee; the Centre. for Constitutional Rights and the Electronic Frontier Foundation; and Paul Hoffman, Michael Sorgen, Robert Newman, Anthony DiCaprio, Elizabeth Guarnieri, and Richard Wiebe. More information on the case may be found at http://www.earthrights.org.