In a David against Goliath case, Nigerian farmers are taking on petroleum giant Shell and demanding compensation for oil spills that contaminated their land.
After several failed attempts to bring the issue to court, four farmers, with the help of Friends of the Earth, brought the case before a court in the Netherlands, as Shell is partly a Dutch company.
Geert Ritsema, from Friends of the Earth said: “We think this is a break-through, because it’s now acknowledged by the Dutch court that the actions of Shell outside of the Netherlands, they can be held liable for these actions and that is the most important victory of today.”
Shell is arguing that the spills in question were caused by saboteurs, by militant groups that have been fighting in the region. Shell will enter a statement of reply to the claims in February.
The farmers want compensation and for Shell to clean up the pollution and improve the general maintenance of pipelines so there will be no more leaks in the future.