Chevron acquitted in human rights case

December 1, 2008 8:05:44 PM PST
Chevron is off the legal hook.

A jury has cleared the company of human rights abuses in Nigeria where the company was sued over a violent protest on an oil platform a decade ago.

This case pits the rights of American corporations to protect its workers abroad against the accountablility of those corporations.

It took a jury about a day-and-a-half to find Chevron not liable in the killings and injuries of Nigerian protestors.

The protestors brought their case to U.S. federal Court arguing that Chevron was behind human rights abuses at its Parabe drilling platform off the Niger Delta ten years ago.

Local villager boarded the platform demanding jobs and money. The protestors insist they were peaceful but Chevron told the jury they were armed and violent, taking workers hostage. The oil company says they had no choice but to call in the Nigerian military for help.

Two protestors were killed.

"If you have family members who are being held hostage by people who have threatened them with violence, you would turn to local authorities to help you resolve the situation. And, that's what we did," said Chevron spokesman John Campbell.

Plaintiff attorney Bert Vorhees said, "The bottom line here for Chevron and other multinational corporations is, the whole world is watching. You cannot get away with this kind of stuff any more in the third world and you will be held accountable. If not today, then tomorrow, or next week, or next month or next year."

The villagers say Chevron owes them for damages to their environment and their economy. Chevron says is understands the social ills plaguing the people of that region but that violence is not the way to remedy it.

The plaintiffs will appeal.


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