Justice In Nigeria Now!

For Human Rights, Environmental Protection and Community Livelihoods

Archive for October, 2008

The Economist: Test Case–How far can America’s legal system be applied to foreign human-rights cases?

Posted by sarahjinn on October 30, 2008

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.

Bowoto v Chevron is likely to test how the American legal system can be applied to human rights in other countries. The civil suit is being brought under the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act, one of America’s oldest laws (it was signed by George Washington). The act allows foreigners to bring civil cases before American courts arising from violations of law or treaty anywhere in the world. It was invoked just twice before 1980, when it was used by a victim of state repression in Paraguay. Since then the act has been invoked in around 100 cases. In 1993 a case against Radovan Karadzic for crimes against humanity in Bosnia broadened its applicability to non-state actors. In 1996 a group of Burmese villagers brought a suit against Unocal, another oil company (subsequently bought by Chevron), over the use of forced labour by Burmese soldiers guarding the route of a gas pipeline. The case was settled in 2004. Go to Article


Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Media Roundup from Bowoto vs. Chevron, Witness Testimony Begins

Posted by sarahjinn on October 30, 2008

MercuryNews.com Protesters’ behavior at heart of trial on whether Chevron violated human rights

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.


The Chevron case, which started this week and is expected to run into December, is shedding light on the tense politics along the Niger Delta around the company’s oil operations there, and claims of environmental damage from the companies drilling and dredging operations.

Chevron contends the villagers who boarded the barge were seen with knives, and that one threatened to set the barge aflame.

A barge worker from another village, Johnson Boyo, testified Wednesday that he saw no weapons and no intimidating tactics from the protesters, who reached the rig in about 30 small boats. Boyo, testifying for the plaintiffs, said soldiers flown onto the barge by helicopter began shooting, and that later he watched soldiers beating a young man with the butt of a gun.

The leader of a small military force that had been stationed aboard the barge yelled at them, Boyo testified.

“He shouted, ‘Stop, stop stop! The protest was peaceful,'” Boyo said.

Under cross-examination by a Chevron lawyer, Boyo acknowledged that he was among a different group of Nigerians who had boarded the barge two months earlier, seeking jobs. Following that protest, Boyo said, he was hired to work there.

Bowoto, the lead plaintiff in the case, wept, trembled and pressed a cloth over his eyes near the start of his testimony Wednesday when asked to identify Arolika Irowarinum in a picture.

Irowarinum was one of the two men killed in the attack. His three Nigerian widows, wearing traditional dresses and matching headscarves, cried from the front row of the gallery before Judge Susan Illston briefly halted the testimony.

Testifying through an interpreter, Bowoto said he was a coordinator of a group called Concerned Ilaje Citizens that was endorsed by elders of several Ilaje villages. He said the group was intent on a peaceful protest, and he insisted that no weapons or alcohol come aboard.

Bowoto testified that Chevron had denied their demand to meet with a general manager from Chevron Nigeria. The day before the attack, he said, the protesters planned to leave the barge the following day.

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

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Media Roundup from Bowoto vs. Chevron, Opening Arguments

Posted by sarahjinn on October 29, 2008

Democracy Now Landmark Trial Against Chevron Begins Over Its Role in the Niger Delta

Democracy Now interviews Laura Livoti, Founder of Justice in Nigeria Now, and Omoyele Sowore, longtime Nigerian human rights activist, and plays an excerpt of Democracy Now!‘s award-winning documentary, Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship Go to Audio/Video

SF Chronicle, Opening Arguments in Chevron Trial

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

LA Times Trial gets underway in human rights case against Chevron

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

Reuters U.S. court told Chevron paid forces in Nigeria clash

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

Houston Chronicle Chevron blamed in Nigeria deaths

Chevron Corp. is responsible for the deaths, injuries and torture of unarmed Nigerians attacked in 1998 on an offshore drilling platform by soldiers summoned by the second-largest U.S. oil company, an attorney told a jury Tuesday. Go to Article

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Media Roundup from Bowoto vs. Chevron, Rally & Jury Seated

Posted by sarahjinn on October 28, 2008

Though the SF Chronicle and Huffington Post stories from the weekend still provide the best background, the start of the trial and rally attracted a wide variety of media coverage:

ABC 7 Many protest outside Chevron gas station

A Conflict that began 10 years ago on a Nigerian oil platform continues in a San Francisco courtroom. It happened about nine miles off the Nigerian coast. Now Chevron is being sued in federal court over how it resolved a hostage situation between its workers and local Nigerians who boarded that platform.  Go to Video

CBS 5 Nigerian and U.S. Human Rights Groups Protest at Chevron Station

An alliance of grassroots human rights groups from Nigeria and the U.S. gathered at a Chevron gas station in San Francisco today to show support for the Nigerian plaintiffs in a federal human rights trial that began today.

Organizers from Global Exchange, Justice in Nigeria Now, and West County Toxics Coalition, based in Contra Costa County, gathered about 100 anti-Chevron protesters in front of the company’s gas station at 9th and Howard streets in San Francisco early this afternoon. Go to Video

KCBS Chevron Goes on Trial in San Francisco Federal Court

A federal trial began Monday to determine if San Ramon-based Chevron was responsible for a deadly clash between Nigerian forces and locals occupying an oil platform ten years ago.

The trial in San Francisco federal court concerns the death of one protestor and the injury of several others who shut down the Parabe platform for three days before armed forces flew in on a Chevron contractor’s helicopters to respond. Go to Audio

SF Chronicle Jury Seated in Chevron Trial

… 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 ocurred, 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

Reuters Chevron on trail for 1998 platform clash

… 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

Law.com: Judge: Chevron Must Remove Paid Google Link Tied to Search of Plaintiff’s Name

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

Oil & Gas Journal Chevron on trial in San Francisco for rights abuses

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

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

Market Watch: Amazon Watch: Chevron Asked to Disclose Relationship to Pat Murphy

The environmental group Amazon Watch today called on Chevron and the San Francisco-based writer Pat Murphy to divulge their financial relationship in light of disclosures that Murphy’s website accepts fees for editorial control of news articles written under Murphy’s byline. Go to Article

Posted in ABC, Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, CBS, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Follow the Blog on Huffington Post about Chevron on Trial in San Francisco

Posted by sarahjinn on October 27, 2008

Read and share the blog about the Chevron in US Federal Court in San Francisco for human rights abuses in Nigeria. Visit Huffington Post follow the blog

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

SF Chronicle: Chevron Faces Suit Over Nigerian Violence

Posted by sarahjinn on October 26, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Larry Bowoto’s left arm is still scarred and numb where a soldier’s bullet struck it in 1998 while he was aboard a Chevron oil platform in Nigeria. During the course of the incident, Bowoto was shot several more times, another man was wounded and yet another was killed. Go to Article

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chevron On Trial Starting Oct. 27 – Rally to Support Nigerian Plaintiffs

Posted by sarahjinn on October 16, 2008

Take the Day Off, Call in Sick, and Show Your Support for Nigerian Villagers Shot by Chevron

On October 27th, the 1st day of a landmark jury trial against Chevron in San Francisco, tell the company that you will not tolerate their human rights abuses in Nigeria or anywhere!

Join us at the Chevron gas station at the corner of 9th and Howard in San Francisco (1298 Howard St) in solidarity with Nigerian plaintiffs who are in Federal court nearby

from 12pm-1pm

Bring your friends and co-workers

Then: After the rally we encourage you to go to the San Francisco Federal courthouse at 450 Golden Gate, 19th floor Courtroom 10 to quietly and peacefully observe the proceedings brought by Nigerian villagers against Chevron from 1:30-3:30pm starting on October 27 and every day of the trial. (Monday through Thursday 8:30-3:30) Please note: This is NOT a “silent protest” it’s simply an act to show your support for the Nigerian plaintiffs with your presence. (Government issued ID required to enter the Federal Building)

For More Information Contact: info@JusticeInNigeriaNow.org or 415 575 5521 or go to: www.ChevWrong.org

This event is co-sponsored by:

Amazon Watch, Global Exchange, Rainforest Action Network Food and Water Watch , People’s Health Movement , Hesperian Foundation , Other Worlds, West County Toxics, Communities for a Better Environment, Burmese American Democratic Alliance, Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity, Asian Pacific Environmental Network – Laoian Organizing Project

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CBS Rejects JINN’s attempt to buy a Bulletin Board Ad in San Francisco

Posted by sarahjinn on October 9, 2008

CBS Censors Human Rights Group, Rejects Bulletin Board Ad Critical of Chevron

(San Francisco, CA) Last week, human rights group Justice In Nigeria Now (JINN) attempted to buy two bulletin boards owned by CBS Outdoor critiquing Chevron Corporation’s human rights abuses in the oil producing regions of Nigeria. CBS Outdoor rejected the group’s advertisement on the grounds that the ad was “critical” and “negative.”

Artwork Rejected by CBS

Artwork Rejected by CBS

The ad submitted to CBS Outdoor contained the website ChevWrong.org and a parody of Chevron’s World of Chevron Cars Campaign, adding a military vehicle to the collection to depict Chevron’s role in paying the Nigerian military and transporting them to attack unarmed villagers. The ad reads: “There is nothing to love about Chevron fueling death in Nigeria,” playing on one of Chevron’s campaign slogans “Cars love Chevron with Techron” as seen on bulletin boards throughout the Bay Area. JINN contends that the public has a right to know about Chevron’s activities in Nigeria and in fact, Chevron’s links to the shooting of unarmed Nigerians is a matter of public record.

The upcoming lawsuit against Chevron – Bowoto v. Chevron -to be heard in U.S. Federal Court in San Francisco starting on Oct 27 has already addressed such attacks when the U.S District Court judge for the case, earlier this year, found evidence that’s Chevron’s personnel “were directly involved” in an attack on Chevron’s Parabe Platform in 1998 sufficient to allow the case to be heard by a jury. This incident involves Chevron paying, transporting and “closely supervising” the Nigerian military in a Chevron-leased helicopter who opened fire on unarmed villagers peacefully protesting the environmental problems caused by the company in their communities.

“The public has a right to know how this Bay Area-based company conducts business in Nigeria and elsewhere. Bulletin board ads are an effective form of conveying a message that reaches thousands of people each day. As a paying customer like any other with a factually true message, it is wrong of CBS to censor this ad,” stated JINN Coordinator, Sarah Dotlich.

San Francisco based Underground Advertising created the artwork for the ad. This is not the first time one of their clients has been rejected from displaying their ad on a bulletin board.

“When the only two choices are buying bulletin boards from CBS or Clear Channel, rejection is not
unexpected,” explained Charlie Cardillo, Creative Director for Underground Advertising. “These two companies have cornered the market, effectively shutting out public critique through this medium.”

“It becomes an issue of freedom of speech. We deserve the same rights as Chevron to display our factual message, this is clearly a form of censorship.” stated Dotlich.

Other groups have attempted to buy bulletin board ad space with a similar result. During the Republic National Convention, a group called Soldier Billboard Project entered into a contract with CBS Outdoor only to have their contract canceled a week before it was expected to run in St. Paul, MN. According to the New York Times

JINN is a San Francisco-based organization working in solidarity with communities in Nigeria and allies in the U.S. to hold multinational corporations accountable for their operations in Nigeria to act in a manner that respects human rights, protects and cleans up the environment, and enhances community livelihoods.

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, CBS, Censorship, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The True Cost of Oil – October 16 San Francisco

Posted by sarahjinn on October 7, 2008

“The True Cost of Oil”

Film Shorts and Panel Discussion

Candace Schermerhorn

credit: Candace Schermerhorn

Join: Justice in Nigeria Now, Amazon Watch and the CounterCorp Film Festival for a night of film shorts related to the true cost of oil in Nigeria and the Amazon.

When: Thursday, October 16 7:15pm-9:15pm

Where: Brava Theater 2781 24th Street(@ York Street) San Francisco

Cost: $10 ($5 with student id)

Films clips include:

The Naked Option: A Last Resort A work in progress by Candace Schermerhorn – A film about 600 Nigerian women who peacefully protested Chevron’s human rights and environmental abuses with only the threat of publicly stripping naked – a culturally unacceptable taboo.

Sweet Crude: A documentary now in post-production, tells the story of Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta. The region is seething and the global stakes are high. But in this moment, there’s an opportunity to find solutions. What if the world paid attention before it was too late?

Justicia Now! A documentary about Chevron’s toxic legacy in the Ecuadorian Amazon and a courageous group of people called Los Afectados (The Affected Ones) who are seeking justice for the ensuing cancer, sickness and death in the largest environmental class action lawsuit in history.

The films will be followed by a panel discussion.

Panelists include: Cindy Cohn, attorney in the upcoming litigation happening this fall in San Francisco against Chevron in Nigeria – Bowoto v. Chevron, Mitch Anderson, Corporate Accountability Campaigner at Amazon Watch, Nigerian activist Ayo Ajisebutu and others.

Contact: 415-575-5521or info@justiceinnigerianow.org

Kendra E. Thornbury for Sweet Crude

Photo Credit: Kendra E. Thornbury for Sweet Crude

Posted in Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Nigeria, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »