Shell Bribes its way out of responsibility
Africa in focus ⬿

Shell Bribes its way out of responsibility

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John Ahni Schertow
June 12, 2009

Shell’s decision to pay out $15 million dollars to the Ogoni People this week has been hailed an important victory for corporate social responsibility. Some are even saying it may set precedent that could turn over a page of world history so drenched in barbarism and human rights abuse that we can scarcely come to terms with what has happened. As we are reminded by what’s happening in Peru right now, it’s a page that drips in the blood of innocent people.

Though the settlement has been welcomed by the Ogoni, and will surely help to ease the pain of loss for the families of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni who were killed by the Nigerian military, the settlement itself can be nothing more than a last ditch way for Shell to evade responsibility for its actions.

Indeed, Shell may have claimed that it “had no part in the violence that took place” when they announced the settlement on June 8, but who spends $15 million to avoid the chance to vindicate themselves through the courts?

It’s “Blood money” says Ogon Patterson, a human rights activist in the Niger Delta and founder of the Iaw council for Human Rights: a plain and simple admission of guilt.

Incidentally, guilt that has just been confirmed by documents obtained by PLATFORM London and Channel 4 news. Never before seen in the public, the documents reveal “Shell’s intimate relationship with the military” and “how the alliance of the Nigerian regime and Shell used force to keep the Ogoni ‘under control’.”

While the settlement is most certainly a victory for the Ogoni people, we must remember how time and again companies like Shell have done everything in their power to avoid taking any type of real responsibility for themselves.

Even now, we can see it happening in Peru and Tanzania, Canada, Burma, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Colombia, Pakistan and dozens of other countries. Wherever there are resources to be plundered.

The names and tragedies may be different, but it always comes down to the same thing (money, power, privilege, approval). That will never change as long as “responsibility” can be reduced to a choice when we all know it is a obligation: affirmed by courts and understood through our very own conscience.

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