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Entries in Nigeria (4)

Tuesday
Feb282012

Can Corporations Accused of Abetting Torture Abroad Be Sued in US?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear a challenge brought by 12 Nigerian plaintiffs who say a Shell oil subsidiary aided and abetted acts of murder, rape and systematic torture by the Nigerian government in the early 1990s.

At issue is whether corporations can be sued in U.S. courts for violations of human rights committed abroad.

Human rights groups hope the high court will reverse a 2010 lower court decision that held that corporations -- unlike individuals -- cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute, a federal law that allows foreigners to bring lawsuits in U.S. federal court for violations of international human rights law.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who were associated with the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, allege in court papers that the Nigerian military, assisted by Shell’s operations in the region, “engaged in a widespread and systematic campaign of torture, extrajudicial executions, prolonged arbitrary detention, and indiscriminate killings constituting crimes against humanity to violently suppress the movement.”

In court papers, lawyer Kathleen M. Sullivan, representing Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., a holding company for Shell, says the lower court was right to find that international law does not recognize corporate responsibility for the alleged offenses.

Sullivan says the Nigerian plaintiffs “fail to demonstrate that international law, with the requisite specificity and universal acceptance, imposes responsibility on corporations for the offenses alleged here. ”

Ralph G. Steinhardt, a law professor at George Washington Law School, says the lower court got it wrong.

“The lower court in this case was alone among federal courts of appeals in concluding that corporations never -- under any circumstance -- have obligations under international law,” says Steinhardt who filed a brief representing international law scholars on behalf of the Nigerian plaintiffs.  “Four other courts of appeals have explicitly reached an opposite conclusion.”

The United States government has filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs.

“The United States has taken the position that whatever complexities may arise in future cases, the absolute rule adopted by the court of appeals in this case is wrong, ” says Steinhardt.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Houston Woman Charged in Fatal Day Care Fire Returns to U.S.

Fulton County Sheriff's Office(HOUSTON) -- The Houston woman charged in a day care fire that killed four toddlers is back in the United States after being arrested in Nigeria.

Jessica Tata, 22, became one of the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitives when she fled from Houston following a fatal fire at her home-based day care center Feb. 24.

Tata was captured in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, by Interpol and U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security agents, according to a statement from the U.S. Marshals.

Tata faces four counts of manslaughter, six counts of reckless injury to a child, three counts of abandoning a child under 15 and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Toddlers Elizabeth Kajoh, Kendyll Stradford, Elias Castillo, and Shomari Dickerson died in the fire at the west Houston home called Jackie's Child Care.

Prosecutors allege that Tata left the children alone in the house while she went shopping, and while she was gone, the fire broke out on a stove-top burner that had been left on.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Woman Turns Herself in Over Fatal Day Care Fire

KTRK-TV Houston(HOUSTON) -- The Houston woman charged in a day care fire that killed four toddlers turned herself in Saturday to U.S. officials in Nigeria, according to her brother.

Ron Tata told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston that his sister, 22-year-old Jessica Tata, surrendered in Nigeria, where she fled following the Feb. 24 fire.

Jessica Tata, who ran Jackie's Child Care out of her home in Houston, was charged in February with one count of reckless bodily injury to a child, and bond was set at $500,000. But prosecutors realized that Tata had already fled the country.

She now faces four manslaughter charges as well as 10 other charges, including reckless injury of a child and child abandonment.

Toddlers Elizabeth Kajoh, Kendyll Stradford, Elias Castillo and Shomari Dickerson died in the fire at the west Houston home day care.

Prosecutors allege that Tata left the children alone in the house while she went shopping, and while she was gone, the fire broke out on a stove-top burner that had been left on. She told investigators she was in the bathroom when the fire started.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar012011

Prosecutor Urges Day Care Worker to Return to U.S. and Face Charges

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- A Houston prosecutor denied Tuesday that it botched the investigation into a day care fire that killed four toddlers, but conceded the woman charged in the fire had left the country and urged her return to the U.S. and face charges.

"If you cared at all about those children, then return," Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos said in an appeal to Jessica Tata.

Tata, who ran Jackie's Child Care in Houston, was charged Monday with one count of reckless bodily injury to a child and bond was set at $500,000. But prosecutors realized that Tata, who is 22, had already fled to Nigeria.

Lykos said at a news conference Tuesday that nine additional charges will be filed against Tata, including six more charges of reckless bodily injury to a child and three charges of child endangerment.

The DA also issued an alert that Tata's brother, Ron Tata, was attempting to create a business called "Houston Benefit of Daycare Victims" to solicit money.

"I would urge the Tata family instead of... raising money and who knows where that money is going to and how it's going to be accounted for, that they have Miss Tata return to Harris County and face justice," Lykos said.

The prosecutor called Ron Tata's fundraising plans "reprehensible."

Lykos news conference was held amid criticism that investigators had not acted more quickly after last Thursday's fire and allowed Tata to leave the country.

Tiffany Dickerson is furious that prosecutors never questioned or arrested Tata who ran the day care where seven children were left alone and four -- including Dickerson's young son -- died in a fire that started on the woman's stove.

Lykos defended her team's investigation into the case. It took four days to charge Tata and prosecutors never questioned the Texas-born woman.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio