Fighting for people over profits
Today, one of the most significant U.S. Supreme Court cases of our time begins. At stake is whether or not corporations can literally get away with murder.
When the Ogoni people of Nigeria began to nonviolently protest Shell’s oil development, Shell colluded with the Nigerian military regime to violently suppress opposition through extrajudicial killing, torture, and crimes against humanity. More than 60 villages were raided, over 800 people were killed, and 30,000 more were displaced from their homes.
This precedent-setting Supreme Court case could finally bring justice for the Ogoni people of Nigeria, but corporations like Dole Foods filed briefs to the Supreme Court in support of Shell to protect their own interests and make sure they can’t be held accountable for human rights abuses abroad either.
Will you join us in telling Dole Foods to immediately pull its name from its amicus brief in the Kiobel v Shell case before the court makes its ruling?
Dole is one of the largest public-facing food corporations in the world, and it cares about its public image — and that’s why everyone needs to know what it is up to. It knows that the stakes are high in the Kiobel case: It has previously been accused of hiring a paramilitary organization that was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government in 2001 to provide ‘violent services’ for Dole’s banana operations in Colombia. These services include murdering trade union leaders and intimidating Dole’s banana workers so that they would not dare to join unions or demand collective negotiations. The paramilitaries allegedly also murdered small farmers so that they would flee their land and permit Dole to plant bananas, and keep profits high.
This case comes down to the fact that corporations want to be people — but not when it comes to being prosecuted for rape, murder and torture. If Shell wins Kiobel then it will mean that corporations can no longer be prosecuted in the US for crimes against humanity committed overseas — overturning decades of established case law that have protected human rights activists all over the world.
The landmark Kiobel case could finally hold Shell Oil accountable for sanctioning extrajudicial killing, torture, crimes against humanity, and the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa. If Shell wins, it will overturn a 200-year-old law used to compensate Holocaust survivors when corporations profited from slavery and forced labor during World War II. Corporations could no longer be prosecuted in the US for crimes against humanity committed overseas, and it would overturn decades of established case law that have protected human rights activists all over the world.
The landmark Kiobel case could finally hold Shell Oil accountable for sanctioning extrajudicial killing, torture, crimes against humanity, and the murder of the late Dr. Barinem Kiobel – an outspoken Ogoni leader – and eleven other Nigerians from the Ogoni area of the Niger Delta. But if Dole gets its way next week, a vital check on corporate power will be lost.
Dole has worked hard to build a benign public image — a remarkable feat considering the atrocities the corporation has committed in poor countries. If the SumOfUs.org community can expose Dole for what it really is, then we can begin to hold Dole and other companies accountable for the actions they take in their relentless pursuit of profit.
Corporations should not be able to get in the way of justice, and Dole should know that when it attempts to protect corporate interests and power at the expense of human rights, that we’ll come together and hold it accountable.
Sign our petition to Dole Foods now demanding that it immediately pull its name from its amicus brief in the Kiobel v Shell case.
In 1990, when the Ogoni people of Nigeria began to nonviolently protest against Shell’s oil development, Shell began cooperating with the Nigerian military regime to violently suppress the opposition. Since then, more than 60 villages have been raided, 800 Ogoni killed and 30,000 displaced.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the late Dr. Barinem Kiobel – an outspoken Ogoni leader and eleven other Nigerians from the Ogoni area of the Niger Delta. The case seeks damages and other relief for crimes against humanity, including torture and extrajudicial executions, and other international law violations committed with defendants’ assistance and complicity between 1992 and 1995 against the Ogoni people.
The court starts hearing evidence today, and could take weeks or months to reach its decision.
Why did Dole Foods file an amicus brief?
In Nicaragua and the Philippines, thousands of banana plantation workers were sterilized by a toxic that was banned in the 1970s by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The pesticide, produced by Dow Chemical, caused asthma, cancer, miscarriages, and sterilization.
Dole has also been accused of hiring a paramilitary organization designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government to intimidate and murder trade union leaders and ensure they didn’t join unions or demand collective negotiations. The paramilitaries allegedly also murdered small farmers so that they would flee their land and permit Dole to plant bananas, and keep profits high.
What is an Amicus Brief?
An amicus brief is a document which is filed in a court by someone who is not directly related to the case under consideration. The most classic example of an amicus brief is a document filed by an advocacy group such as the American Civil Liberties Union. The additional information which is found in such a document can be useful for the judge evaluating the case, and it becomes part of the official case record. Many nations allow people or entities to file such documents with their courts.
The tradition of accepting amicus briefs comes from a larger concept, the amicus curiae, or “friend of the court.” A friend of the court may be interested in a case for various reasons, although he or she is not directly involved.
Who has submitted amicus briefings in the Shell v. Kiobel court case?
An extensive list of corporations have filed pro-Shell amicus briefs to the Supreme Court. This includes Monsanto, Chevron, BP, Rio Tinto, Dow Chemical, Ford, pharmaceutical giant Glaxosmith Kline, Proctor and Gamble, Honeywell, ConocoPhillips, IBM, General Electric. It also includes right wing think tank the Cato Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Filipino Banana Workers Frustrated in Battle Over Dole’s Pesticides, In These Times. August 15, 2012.
Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. International Human Rights Clinic.