A major oil company has reached a financial settlement with villagers in Indonesia fter a court battle dating back two decades with no admission of liability.
The villagers from the Aceh province claimed that Indonesian soldiers working for ExxonMobil tortured, battered, and sexually assaulted them. These claims were fiercely contested by the company.
The settlement is not an admission of any culpability in the case.
The business declared it strongly condemned all forms of abuse, including those made against the Indonesian military by the villagers.
The locals allege that they watched their relatives being shot at. Furthermore, it was alleged human rights violations occurred near the North Aceh Arun field, near to one of ExxonMobil’s most important gas fields.
The firm makes large profits and is a global player. It issued a statement following the claims as it expressed sympathy to the claimants.
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However, a financial settlement between the parties involved led to proceedings scheduled to start this month in Washington being stopped.
In a statement, ExxonMobil said: “It should be noted while there were no allegations that any employee directly harmed any of the plaintiffs, the settlement brings closure for all parties.”
“We express our deepest sympathy to the families and the people who were involved.”
The plaintiffs, who requested anonymity and were given the nom-de-plumes Jane and John Doe, expressed satisfaction with the deal.
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One of the villagers said: “While nothing will bring back my husband, this victory delivers the justice we have spent two decades fighting for and will be life-changing for me and my family.”
Professor Michel Paradis of Columbia Law School, who was not involved in the case, described the outcome as noteworthy.
He told the BBC: “Exxon and its lawyers threw everything they could at them, and they overcame it.
“That is a testament not simply to their perseverance, but to the justness of their cause.”
“They and their lawyers should take tremendous satisfaction in the fact that they not only succeeded in getting accountability for what was done to them, but that they helped advance a sea change of reform to the way corporations govern themselves that will prevent things like this from happening again.”
In order to protect the plaintiffs’ anonymity and safety, the cash settlement’s terms have not been made public.
Despite the fact that the settlement ends the legal dispute, Indonesian human rights advocates contend that it does not adequately address the victims’ serious psychological harm.
However, they consider the settlement to be a notable result because it brought the alleged human rights breaches to the public’s notice.
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