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Shell defense in Nigeria raises eyebrows

Aug. 6, 2012 at 8:44 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. Supreme Court brief filed by Shell in a case involving alleged rights violations in Nigeria contains "offensive" arguments, an advocacy group said.

Shell, in Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum, is accused of working with the Nigerian government to ensure resistance to operations in the oil-rich Niger Delta was protected by military force.

In a 71-page brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the company argues the Alien Tort Statute doesn't apply in a case in Nigeria because that law doesn't extend to activity conducted on foreign soil.

"Nothing in the ATS's text, structure, or history contemplates extending it to a case like this one," the brief states.

Earthrights International states that Shell "makes arguments that range from misleading to false to offensive, all with the aim of proving that in no circumstances may U.S. courts consider claims under the Alien Tort Statute involving human rights abuses that took place abroad."

The U.S. government in June filed a brief stating its partial support for Shell in the case, saying the Alien Tort Statute shouldn't be applied.

EarthRights International in July filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking information about whether the possible business interests of Cabinet-level officials swayed the government's decision in the Kiobel case.

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