Justice In Nigeria Now!

For Human Rights, Environmental Protection and Community Livelihoods

Posts Tagged ‘Niger Delta’

Chevron asks Nigerian Plaintiffs for Nearly $500,000

Posted by sarahjinn on February 2, 2009

Chevron filed a motion seeking $485,000 in costs from the Nigerian villagers who sued the company for aiding and abetting shootings, killing and torture in U.S. federal court this fall. According to the most recent UN statistics in 2006 the per capita income for a Nigerian was $912. Justice in Nigeria Now! (JINN) notes that Nigerians living in the Niger Delta’s oil producing communities are the poorest in the country and although there are no readily accessible per capita income figures for a resident of the Delta, it is certain that the figure is significantly lower than for the population of country taken as a whole. JINN’s founder, Laura Livoti says that Chevron’s attempt to squeeze nearly half a million dollars out of poor villagers who don’t even have access to clean drinking water and who had wanted jobs with the company is a dramatic illustration of Chevron’s heartlessness. To get a sense of what Chevron is asking of these villagers you need to understand that $485,000 could sustain the people of at least four or five Ilaje villages of a few hundred people in the Niger Delta for a year. Contrast this request for $485,000 (nearly $200,000 for making photocopies) of poor villagers with the $23.4 billion in recordbreaking profit the company earned in 2008.

Ed Kashi

Typical house in Ikorigho, Nigeria where many of the plaintiffs reside Credit: Ed Kashi

While Chevron claims to be sympathetic to those who live where it extracts oil, the fact that the company would further impoverish the very people whose lives their operations have devastated and who were shot by the Nigerian military who were flown in and paid by Chevron is a perfect representation of the wide gulf that exists between reality on the ground and the executives in the headquarters and public relations suites located comfortably in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the jury did not find Chevron liable in the Bowoto v. Chevron case, the fact that Chevron flew in the notoriously brutal military who shot killed and injured Nigerians staging a peaceful unarmed sit-in on the oil platform was not disputed by the company.

See recent article in the LA Times for further information on this story.


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

Nigerians Return Home with Sense of Hope

Posted by sarahjinn on January 13, 2009

The Nigerian witnesses and plaintiffs send you their thanks and regards from the Niger Delta. After nearly three months in the San Francisco Bay Area during the human rights trial against Chevron, all of the Nigerians are safely and happily back at home. Although the U.S. jury did not hold Chevron accountable for its actions, it was never refuted in the Northern California District Court that Chevron paid and transported the Nigerian military to the platform in May 1998 and that two people were killed and several others injured by the military and police. The jurors, who avoided eye contact while their verdict was read, slipped silently out of the courthouse bypassing the media and the attorneys. Though we can’t tell you why the jurors came to the decision they did, we can tell you that for the Nigerians to prevail on any count all 9 jurors had to agree.

Nigerians meet with Richmond, CA community members

Nigerians meet with Richmond, CA community members

The Nigerian Ilaje and Itsekiri who were involved in this court case did not leave California with a sense of defeat; in fact the message that was declared throughout the days after the trial was one of victory to have made it this far and that “the struggle continues.” Immediately after the trial ended, having seen how organizations in the United States work, the Nigerians asked for help in building stronger local organizations in the Niger Delta with the goal of eventually creating a network to work together. JINN was able to arrange for an initial meeting with an organizational development professional to help them brainstorm initial organizational questions in the wake of the verdict. JINN hopes to be able to continue to provide appropriate support as the Nigerians actualize this thinking at home.

The Ilaje and Itsekiri returned home bolstered by meeting many supportive allies across the Bay Area and with the knowledge that they are not alone in this struggle. While they were in the Bay Area they met community members in Richmond, CA who live next to the Chevron refinery and are suffering from asthma and cancer as a result and with activists who have challenged Chevron for its highly polluting tar sands operations in Canada and those supporting the lawsuit against Chevron for the toxic mess in the Ecuadoran Amazon. They left with an understanding of their role in a greater movement that demands oil companies and all extractive industries conduct their business while respecting human rights, enhancing local community livelihoods and protecting the environment where they operate. JINN endeavors to continue to build on our relationships with our Nigerian allies.

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

JINN Statement on Verdict: Chevron Trial Still a Victory

Posted by sarahjinn on December 1, 2008

Corporate Accountability Advocates Claim Victory, Despite Verdict in Human Rights Case Against Chevron

Bowoto Case Showed There is a Legal Foundation For Corporations to be Held Liable in US Courts for Human Rights Abuses Committed Overseas

SAN FRANCISCOO Monday, December 1, a US district court jury acquitted San Ramon-based Chevron Corporation of complicity in human rights abuses. The case of Bowoto v. Chevron, which pitted Chevron and its relationship with the notoriously violent Nigerian police and military against Nigerians who peacefully protested the destruction of their environment and livelihood by Chevron’s oil production activities. Despite the verdict, corporate accountability advocates vowed to continue the struggle to bring Chevron and other corporations to justice for human rights violations they commit overseas.

“The fact that Bowoto v. Chevron made it this far in the process is a victory in and of itself, because it means that we have demonstrated that there is a clear pathway in the US court system for holding corporations accountable to the rule of law. This is the first time a case against a company for aiding and abetting human rights violations overseas has even gone before a jury. And although we are disappointed that the plaintiffs did not prevail in this case, we are heartened by the fact that we are now entering a new era in the United States and abroad where people have seen the results of unregulated corporate excess (in the financial system and elsewhere) and want corporations to be reined in to prevent serious harms. Bringing this case to trial in the United States is a step on the path to corporate accountability. In the near future, corporations will no longer have a free ride to do operate with impunity in ways that are destructive and dehumanizing,” said Laura Livoti, founder of the group Justice in Nigeria Now.

“Regardless of the verdict, the Bowoto v. Chevron case represented a watershed in terms of corporate accountability. The details of the Nigerian case – of human rights abuses in the global operations of the oil and gas industry – can be replicated many times over in different industrial sectors in different parts of the world. Now communities around the world know that they have recourse to legal mechanisms to bring corporations that violate their human rights to justice,” said Michael Watts, a professor at UC Berkeley and author of numerous books on the Niger Delta, including Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta.

Bowoto v. Chevron concerned a 1998 incident in which Nigerian soldiers and police shot unarmed residents of the Ilaje community in southern Nigeria who were staging a nonviolent sit-in at Chevron’s offshore Parabe Platform to demand that Chevron change its practices. Chevron’s operations have devastated local communities’ access to food and clean water. The protester also demanded that the company support the local economy by hiring local residents. In response to the peaceful protest, Chevron summoned the notoriously violent Nigerian police and military and transported them in Chevron helicopters to the oil platform. Under the supervision of Chevron personnel, the Nigerian military and police killed two protesters and permanently injured others. Several protesters were taken to Nigerian jails, where they were tortured.

The jury was charged with deciding whether Chevron aided and abetted the Nigerian military, in violation of international law. The legal basis for the case was the Alien Tort Statute, a law that enables foreign victims of human rights violations by corporations to hold a US corporation accountable in US court for violations of the law of nations overseas. The Alien Tort Statute has been used in cases charging Unocal with violating the human rights of Burmese villagers during the construction of an oil pipeline in Burma, and charging Yahoo with giving the Chinese government information that allowed it to identify and arrest a Chinese dissident. Both of those cases ended in out-of-court settlements. Bowoto v. Chevron would have been the first time a U.S. corporation has been held liable by a jury in U.S. courts for aiding and abetting human rights abuses committed overseas.

Posted in Alien Tort Statute, Bowoto v. Chevron, Chevron, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

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 »

Senate Hearing on Human Rights and Extractive Industry

Posted by sarahjinn on September 22, 2008

Environmental and Human Rights Activists to Testify Before Senate on Abuses by Extractive Industries Abroad, Including Chevron in Nigeria and Burma

ed kashi

copyright: ed kashi

Groups to Call for Responsibility of Oil Giant and other Extractive Industry Companies at Hearing before Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law

Earth Rights International:

Washington, D.C., September 22, 2008 – One month before it will appear before a federal jury in the landmark human rights case, Bowoto v. Chevron, facing charges of torture and wrongful death, Chevron, along with other leading extractive industry companies, will come under the scrutiny of the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. In the hearing, “Extracting Natural Resources: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law,” witnesses will bring to light oil, mining and gas companies’ complicity in human rights abuses perpetrated by public or private security forces in Nigeria, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Indonesia.

Nigerian activist Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, will testify about Chevron’s repression of nonviolent environmental protesters, which gave rise to the Bowoto v. Chevron lawsuit. Mr. Bassey will explain that use of the brutal Nigerian military forces by multinational oil companies, including Chevron, continues unabated today. He will be joined by co-founder and Executive Director of EarthRights International (ERI), Ka Hsaw Wa, who will testify about the egregious human rights violations associated with gas pipeline projects in Burma, including Chevron’s Yadana project, drawing from ERI’s fourteen years of experience documenting human rights abuses in the Yadana pipeline region.

The hearing will also include testimony from Jeffrey Krilla, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, as well as Arvind Ganesan, Director of the Business and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. Embargoed testimony is available upon request.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, chaired by Senator Richard J. Durbin, was established in January 2007 and is the first Senate committee or subcommittee focusing exclusively on human rights.

Listen to the hearing on Wednesday at 10:45am EST

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

Filmmaker Sandy Cioffi Speaks about MEND

Posted by sarahjinn on September 18, 2008

There is much controversy around the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in Nigeria.  Watch and listen  to the perspective of filmmaker Sandy Cioffi from her interview on Democracy Now in May of this year. Sandy is another filmmaker who was detained by the Nigerian police earlier this year.

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

American filmmaker returned to US after detainment by Nigerian government

Posted by sarahjinn on September 11, 2008

Re-posted from helpandy.wordpress.com

NEW YORK, September 11, 2008 –Andrew Berends, the American filmmaker who had been detained by Nigerian State Security Services was returned to the United States Wednesday. He was escorted to his plane by Nigerian immigration officers without an explanation as to why he was being sent home. Berends was never charged with a crime, and had a legal business visa in his passport at the time of his detainment.

His Nigerian translator, Samuel George, has been provisionally released, but is expected to return to the State Security Services offices at noon on Friday, along with a third man who had also been detained. The status of any investigation against them is still uncertain.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) jointly sponsored a letter, written to the President of Nigeria calling for Berends’ immediate release, and signed by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Robert Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and John Kerry (D-MA).

This is the third in a string of similar detainments of American journalists in the past two years by the Nigerian government. Most recently, five members of the crew making the documentary film “Sweet Crude” were detained for seven days, before ultimately being released without being charged.

Berends says, “I am extremely disappointed with this pattern of suppressing press freedom in Nigeria. It calls into question the Nigerian government’s sincerity when it comes to upholding the basic tenets of democracy since the transition from military rule in 1999.”

Berends was in Nigeria working on his documentary film, “Delta Boys,” about the militancy in the Niger Delta. He had been arrested at Nembe Waterside in Port Harcourt along with his translator, Samuel George, while filming women on their way to market. He had been granted permission to film by the military sergeant in charge in the area.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sign-On Letter to Chevron’s CEO

Posted by sarahjinn on September 4, 2008

Join Justice In Nigeria Now to send a strong message to Chevron about their human rights abuses in Nigeria.

165 people who have already signed a letter to Chevron’s CEO David O’Reilly calling on Chevron to stop paying transporting, and housing the Nigerian military and police forces who shoot, injure and kill innocent unarmed protesters in Nigeria. Sign Letter!

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