22 years later, ExxonMobil finally settled Indonesians’ long-running abuse suit

22 years later, exxonmobil finally settled indonesians' long running abuse suit

22 years later, exxonmobil finally settled indonesians’ long running abuse suit

Last month, a group of Indonesian villagers reached a confidential financial settlement with US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, after accusing it of human rights abuses including rape. It came 22 years after the case was filed by Washington, DC-based lawyer Terrence Collingsworth.

Resolving the case on favourable terms is amazing for the plaintiffs, who now have got justice, and for the lawyers because “we did not give up,” Diplomat quoted Collingsworth as saying following news of the settlement.

‘We Are All Tired’

The case stemmed from accusations by 11 Acehnese villagers who alleged they and their family members were sexually assaulted, raped, beaten and tortured by security guards recruited by the US company from the ranks of the Indonesian army.

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The slow progress of the litigation was due to a confluence of factors, including a chronic backlog of cases in the US court system and repeated legal challenges by ExxonMobil. While it took long, a plaintiff told The Diplomat he was pleased the legal battle was finally over.

“We are old men and women now and are all tired,” he said. The details of the financial settlement are confidential and all the plaintiffs are listed as John Does or Jane Does in court documents to protect their identities.

ExxonMobil Expresses Its Sympathy To Victims

For its part, the oil and gas giant has always denied that it was aware of any human rights abuses and argued that it could not be held legally responsible, if indeed any violations did occur, as it did not order or authorise them.

ExxonMobil expressed its deepest sympathy to the people and the families who were involved in a statement following the settlement. The company is the result of a merger between Mobil Oil Indonesia and US company Exxon.

The oil and gas giant apparently had paid members of the Indonesian army $500,000 per month to protect its plant in Lhoksukon at the height of Aceh’s civil war between the military and local separatists, court documents showed.

Corporate Accountability

The conflict lasted for decades before a peace deal was finally reached in 2005. Nevertheless, while the case may be seen as a legal victory for the plaintiffs, it was disappointing that the company settled before going to trial and was not held accountable in a court of law.

According to Ian Wilson, a lecturer in politics and security studies at the Murdoch University of Perth, while it’s good the victims were compensated for their suffering, in the end, it’s also another case of corporations buying themselves out of serious legal troubles.

About Wrighter

Wrighter covers news across the global on Human Rights, Migrants Rights, and Labor Rights. Wrighter has vast experience in writing and is a doctor by profession.

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