Exxon Mobil Corp warned that a US judge's decision to allow villagers to file a lawsuit against the oil giant for alleged abuses by Indonesian troops in Aceh Province could set a precedent for all US companies operating abroad.
But the Irving, Texas-based company has not yet decided whether it will appeal the ruling, spokeswoman Susan Reeves said yesterday in a telephone interview.
The International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit in 2001 on behalf of 11 Acehnese villagers who said Exxon's Indonesian subsidiary allowed its facilities to be used by soldiers to torture locals and to commit other human-rights abuses.
The hearings were postponed in 2002 after the State Department said the lawsuit could harm US interests, but US District Judge Louis Oberdorfer ruled last week the case could proceed.
"The lawsuit created the potential for any US company operating overseas to be held vicariously liable for host government actions," Reeves said. "Such action would risk interference with US foreign relations and diplomacy."
Aceh, a province of 4 million people on the northern tip of Sumatra island, has seen a series of guerrilla wars since the Dutch occupied it in the 1870s.
The latest round of fighting, which broke out in 1976 when insurgents picked up arms to carve out an independent state, claimed 15,000 lives before it ended with the signing of a peace agreement last year.
Exxon's has previously said the military deployed four infantry battalions and an armored cavalry unit during the conflict to protect a natural gas field and pipeline operated by the company on behalf of Indonesia's state-run Pertamina energy conglomerate.
Human rights groups applauded Oberdorfer's ruling yesterday, saying Exxon should be held responsible for crimes carried out by soldiers and police on its property.
"The Acehnese have every right to file a lawsuit," said Yusuf Pase, a prominent lawyer and rights activist.
Sofyan Dawood, a former spokesman for the Rebel Free Aceh Movement, said Exxon is "part of the problem" in Aceh.
"It even provided places in which torture and violence against civilians took place," he said.
Exxon's troubles are the latest example of the challenges US firms have faced in recent years when operating in Indonesia.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc was forced to temporarily shut its mine in Papua province last month after protesters blockaded a road, demanding they be allowed to sift through the mine's waste ore.
And the American director of Newmont Mining Corp's local subsidiary faces a possible 10-year prison sentence for allegedly allowing the company to dump arsenic and other heavy metals into a bay on Sulawesi Island.
Separately, the Denver-based company agreed last month to pay US$30 million in an out-of-court settlement to fund environmental monitoring and community development around its massive gold mine.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to