In Court

Published: Thursday 15 December 2005

flare-down: The burning of natural gas by oil firms in the Niger Delta violates the human rights of local people and should be stopped immediately, ruled the high court of Benin City in Nigeria. The ruling was issued in a case filed by the Iwerekan community of Delta State against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, the state oil company, and Shell Development Petroleum Corporation, which controls nearly half of the country's oil production capacity. The companies immediately appealed the order. If the case stands, it could open the way for residents of the oil-rich delta to sue over other matters. Gas is flared in the delta because of a lack of facilities to exploit the resource commercially. Giant orange flares burn round the clock in the vast region of mangrove swamps and creeks, close to villagers' homes, causing explosions, constant noise and great heat.

'green' light: The European Court of Justice recently ruled that the Austrian ban on lorries of over 7.5 tonnes, carrying goods on a section of the A12 motorway imposed in 2003, obstructed the free transit of goods. The ban was to protect human, animal and plant health. "The measure concerns a road section of the utmost importance, constituting one of the main land routes between the south of Germany and the north of Italy," the court said.

not us: An Indonesian court recently tossed out a US $133 million civil suit against a unit of the world's largest gold miner, Newmont Mining Corp, saying it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The case was lodged by the environment ministry earlier this year against Newmont's Indonesian concern, seeking damages for pollution in a bay in the eastern Sulawesi region. Prosecutors allege the disposal process involved dumping mercury and arsenic into the bay, making villagers sick. The ministry will appeal.

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