A unique court case begins in The Hague on Thursday as oil giant Shell is taken to court by four Nigerian farmers over environmental damage to their village.
The four are supported by environmental group Milieudefensie and the case is the first time a Dutch company has been taken to court in the Netherlands for causing damage in a foreign country.
The farmers are demanding Shell clean up oil pollution in their villages as well as damages. They argue their land has become polluted, fish are dying and drinking water is no longer fit for human consumption.
According to Nos television, the case hinges on two key issues: is Shell itself responsible for damage caused by Shell Nigeria, and is Shell doing enough to prevent further spillages?
The case has taken four years to come to court. Shell had argued the case should not be heard in the Netherlands because the country has no jurisdiction over Shell Nigeria (SPDC) but was overruled.
‘This is the first time Shell will face a Dutch judge,’ Milieudefensie spokesman Geert Ritsema told the Nos. ‘That is important because there have been thousands of court cases in Nigeria without the desired result.’
Shell argues 75% of the oil leaks in Nigeria are caused by sabotage and oil thieves and will try to prove this is the case in the three villages at the centre of today’s court case, the Nos said.
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