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The Price of Oil
12 Sep 2003
Human Rights Watch
This report is an exploration of human rights violations related to oil exploration and production in the Niger Delta, and of the role and responsibilities of the major multinational oil companies in respect of those violations. The Niger Delta has for some years been the site of major confrontations between the people who live there and the Nigerian government security forces, resulting in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. These violations of civil and political rights have been committed principally in response to protests about the activities of the multinational companies that produce Nigeria’s oil. Although the June 1998 death of former head of state Gen. Sani Abacha and his succession by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar has brought a significant relaxation in the unprecedented repression General Abacha inflicted on the Nigerian people, and General Abubakar appears committed to ensuring the installation of an elected civilian government in May 1999, human rights abuses in the oil producing communities continue and the basic situation in the delta remains unchanged. As this report went to press, the fatal shooting by security forces of tens of youths demonstrating for the oil companies to withdraw from Nigeria was reported, and the deployment of large numbers of soldiers and navy to the delta to suppress such protests.

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