De Balie Kijkt: Esther and the Law

Bekijk trailer
Tatiana Scheltema
Running time
English, Dutch, Yoruba
partnership with
Esther’s husband Dr. Barinem Kiobel was one of the “Ogoni 9”, people who were executed in 1995 after revolting against Shell’s pollution of their land in Nigeria. A quarter of a century later, Esther tries to prove in front of a Dutch court that the Shell corporation was involved in the executions.

The Ogoni people, living in the Niger Delta, organized a revolt against Shell, who extracted oil from their land and caused severe pollution while returning no value to the local population. After a show trial, nine Ogoni leaders were sentenced to death. Esther is convinced Shell stood behind and encouraged the regime to dispose of the rebels.

Esther travels from Dallas, Texas, where she currently lives, back to Nigeria to find people willing to testify against Shell in the Netherlands. In the courtroom, together with her lawyer Channa Samkalden, she tries to prove that Shell bribed witnesses.

After the film we are joined on stage by Channa Samkalden and Audrey Gaughran, executive director of SOMO – The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, an independent, non-profit research organization working on social, ecological and economic issues related to sustainable development.

This programme was created in partnership with SOMO, who are celebrating 50 years since their foundation.

About the speakers

Dr. Channa Samkalden is a lawyer specialised in liability for human rights violations, in the Netherlands and abroad. In another case against Shell, she managed to provoke a verdict from the court that said that multinationals can be held responsible for their actions abroad.

Audrey Gaughran joined SOMO as the Executive Director in 2021. Previously, Audrey worked as an anti-corruption and human rights advocate in roles at Amnesty International and the Natural Resource Governance Institute. As Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, Gaughran has led teams of investigators, lawyers and campaigners working on human rights.

Together with the SOMO team she is fighiting for a fair and sustainable world, in which public interests outweigh corporate interests. SOMO conducts action-oriented research to expose the impact and unprecedented power of multinationals and show the underlying structures that enable them.


Audrey Gaughran SOMO
Audrey GaughranExecutive director of SOMO