Twelve Nigerian nationals sued Royal Dutch Petroleum (parent company of Shell Oil) and two other oil companies under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for aiding and abetting human rights abuses committed in the Ogoni Region of Nigeria in the early 1990s. The victims were protesting Shell’s oil activities in the region. One of the 12 is Esther Kiobel, whose husband was tortured and executed after a sham military trial.
The Supreme Court originally heard arguments in Kiobel on February 28, 2012, to decide whether to shield corporations from liability under the ATS.
In an example of the overreach typical of the Roberts Court, the case was rescheduled to decide whether any defendant can be held liable for human rights abuses which occur outside of the United States, when neither party is an American citizen.
The Supreme Court long ago held that American federal courts were open to remedy human rights abuses around the globe.