Netherlands: More than 50 lawsuits loom large as Shell holds AGM

As oil giant Shell prepares for its annual shareholders meeting in The Hague tomorrow, Amnesty International is drawing investors’ attention to dozens of national and international lawsuits that are currently underway against the company and that could potentially cost it millions.

Decades of irresponsible business practices have landed Shell in a legal maze
Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International

Amnesty International has joined forces with four other NGOS - Global Witness, Groninger Bodem Beweging, Greenpeace and Milieudefensie - to hold a pop-up ‘exhibition’ at the meeting, showcasing details of 16 of the active lawsuits against Shell.

“Decades of irresponsible business practices have landed Shell in a legal maze. Shell staff and investors meet tomorrow under the shadow of more than 50 lawsuits relating to involvement in historic human rights abuses, corruption and environmental destruction,” said Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

“We want investors to wake up to the human and environmental cost of Shell’s utter disregard for anything other than its profit margins. That’s why everyone who walks through the door of tomorrow’s meeting will be greeted by photographs of the plaintiffs who are battling Shell for justice, and details of the shocking allegations they are bringing against the company.”

The exhibition will highlight 16 lawsuits including:

  • A case brought against Shell in June 2017 by four Nigerian women accusing it of complicity in the unlawful killings of their husbands in 1995. The execution of the Ogoni 9 was the culmination of a brutal military campaign to silence protests against Shell pollution.
  • Criminal investigations by six countries (Italy, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Switzerland, the UK, the US) into Shell's involvement in corruption in Nigeria
  • A series of lawsuits filed by cities and counties in the US, and an investigation by the Philippines Human Rights Commission, relating to how Shell and other energy companies have contributed to climate change.
  • A Dutch criminal investigation into earthquake damages caused by Shell and ExxonMobil’s operations in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Shell will be in court in London again tomorrow in an ongoing legal tussle with the Bodo community, from the Niger Delta, over Shell’s failure to clean up the contamination of two massive spills in 2008.

“The fact that this important hearing coincides with Shell’s annual meeting demonstrates the astonishing frequency with which Shell appears in the courtroom,” said Mark Dummett.

Amnesty International and the other organizations are calling for investors to use their influence over Shell’s management to ensure the company improves on its record on the environment and human rights.