Ogani Trial Essay

Submitted By ChrisBahlo1
Words: 685
Pages: 3

In the summer of 1994, nine Ogani activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa were convicted of charges brought against them by the Nigerian government. These men were tried in a special military court, which allowed General Sani Abacha to impose the death penalty on these individuals. It appeared that these men were convicted unjustly and that someone if not something should have prevented these hangings. Saro-Wiwa, along with his eight co-defendants, were stripped away of their basic human rights to life and the pursuit of happiness. Many have argued that the Shell Corporation in Nigeria were silently complicit during the trial and should have engaged at the earliest possible sign of a human rights violation. On the other hand, the duty of the State is to protect its citizens against the abuse of human rights through policies and regulations. Considering the State was currently in a major conflict over power and eventually turned into a dictatorship under the rule of Sani Abacha; it seemed evident that the government was in little or no position to protect its citizens from abuse. Therefore, in the case of Saro-Wiwa, the Shell Corporation should take a majority of the responsibility in the deaths of these nine Ogani activists.
Events like this have increased global awareness on the impact corporations have on human rights. Due to the every increasing global market of supply and competition, independent firms are more responsible than ever to prevent the violation of human rights. It is no longer acceptable for firms to disregard the actions of its suppliers along the supply chain or any aspect of the business process. For instance, Nike took the stance roughly 20 years ago that the use of sweatshops in its supply chain is of no relevance to their firm. Although there are different labor standards around the world, there is a growing sense of corporate responsibility amongst firms, which include but are not limited to a high level of moral and ethical standards. These high standards were not enforced by Shell during the mid 1970’s. In fact, Shell released a standard guideline of principles in 1976 that stated, “companies should endeavor always to act commercially, operating within existing national laws in a socially responsible manner and avoid involvement in politics.” The following statement demonstrated a lack of concern towards the Ogani employees and their cause. Shell Corporation at the time did not realize the importance of their presence in Nigeria and did not engage to help the community around them.
In addition to Shell’s complicit behavior during the trial, one may argue that SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Company) executive members played an active roll in