Swedwatch welcomes landmark trial against Lundin Oil executives
The 5th of September marks a historic day as the trial against two former executives of oil company Lundin Oil, today Orrön Energy, begins. The executives are accused of complicity in grave war crimes in Sudan from 1999 to 2003. Meanwhile, an OECD-led mediation process relating to the sale of major Lundin assets is ongoing in Norway, a process in which Swedwatch is taking part.
Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter, the former chairman and former CEO of Swedish oil company Lundin Oil, today Orrön Energy, are suspected of having been complicit in grave war crimes committed by the Sudanese military and its allied militias, with the purpose of securing the company’s oil operations in southern Sudan. According to the prosecutor, Lundin and Schneiter had a decisive influence on Lundin Oil’s operations in the country.
- Swedwatch welcomes that allegations of crimes committed during the oil wars in Sudan will finally be tried in court. For decades, the victims have been denied having their cases heard. Hopefully, the trial will be the first step in ensuring justice for all that were affected. Furthermore, it sends a clear signal to companies operating in conflict-sensitive contexts to act firmly on their responsibility to respect human rights, says Olof Björnsson, researcher at Swedwatch and author of the report “Fuel for Conflict”.
The importance of remedy and justice for all victims
However, while a possible conviction might lead to compensation for the 32 plaintiffs in the court case, thousands of people who still live with the consequences of the civil war are at risk of remaining uncompensated. Their remediation chances further diminished when Lundin Energy in 2022 sold its main assets to Norwegian oil and gas company Aker BP.
Therefore, Swedwatch together with seven other NGOs in May 2022 filed a complaint with OECD’s National Contact Point (NCP) in Norway against Aker BP and its owner Aker ASA for failing to comply with the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. The complaints claim that the purchasing company and its main shareholder did not perform proper analysis on how the acquisition would affect rights holders and how it could potentially undermine their chances of remediation.
In February 2023, the NCP accepted the complaints. The case is currently under mediation, a process in which Swedwatch is one of the participants. According to the NCP, dialogue and mediation between the parties may lead to a solution and contribute to the purposes of the OECD Guidelines.
- We look forward to finding a solution through this process that is in line with the OECD guidelines. Hopefully this will serve to further enable access to remedy generally and contribute to a better understanding of corporate responsibility when business operations are suspected of adverse human rights impacts, says Olof Björnsson.
In 2001 Lundin Oil became Lundin Petroleum. In 2020 Lundin Petroleum changed name to Lundin Energy. In connection with the sale of
assets to Aker BP in 2022, Lundin Energy changed its name to Orrön Energy.
Between 1997 and 2003, Lundin Oil prospected for oil in southern Sudan, at the time torn by a brutal civil war. To prevent the war from disrupting the country’s important oil extraction, the Sudanese government engaged in a military campaign to clear the oil areas of civilians, resulting in severe and widespread violations of human rights.
The criminal investigation into the activities of the company was initiated in 2010 after the report Unpaid Debt, published by the European Coalition for Oil in Sudan (ECOS), highlighted the role of the company in the conflict. According to ECOS, as many as 12,000 people died as a result of the war in the Lundin concession area while 160,000 people were forcibly displaced.
In November 2021, Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter were indicted for complicity in grave war crimes committed when the company was prospecting for oil in Sudan between 1999 and 2003. According to the indictment, the two men were complicit in crimes committed against civilians by the Sudanese military and its allied militias for the purpose of enabling oil extraction.
Information about the indictment from Swedish Prosecution Authority:
More background, such as the timetable for the trial, from Pax/Unpaid dept:
Research published by Swedwatch in 2017 in the report “Fuel for conflict”, showed that many Swedish banks and pension funds were invested in the company at the time of the civil war in Sudan, or became shareholders afterwards, when the role played by the oil companies in the conflict was publicly available.
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