“Steven Donziger has been subject to an illegal detention orchestrated by Chevron and two ideologically-driven trial judges who are retaliating against him for winning a major pollution judgement in Ecuador against a powerful U.S. corporation [Chevron],” say lawyers.
The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights ruled in favor of U.S. human rights attorney Steven Donziger, who had been under house arrest for 2 years as the result of a RICO lawsuit filed against him by oil giant Chevron.
“The U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WAGA) called the lawyer’s two-year home detention ‘arbitrary’, concluded it violated multiple provisions of international law including the right to a fair trial, and requested the United States government release him immediately and pay compensation for a deprivation of liberty that has now spanned 786 days in a minor misdemeanor case where no lawyer in the U.S. ever has spent even one day in prison,” MakeChevronCleanup.com reported.
Donziger is best known as the lawyer who in 2013 helped Indigenous groups in Ecuador’s Amazon win a historic $9.5 billion pollution judgement against Chevron for its deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of cancer-causing oil waste into ancestral lands.
But in 2011, Chevron filed a civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) suit against Donziger in New York City, accusing him of bribing an Ecuadorean judge and “fixing” scientific studies.
After a years-long protracted legal back-and-forth with Chevron, in 2019 Donziger was sentenced to home detention while awaiting trial.
WAGA called for the immediate release of Donziger and for Chevron to financially compensate him.
“Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Steven Donziger immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
Donziger’s lawyer Martin Garbus, who has also represented Nelson Mandela and journalist Daniel Ellsberg, hailed the ruling as “significant” and “courageous.”
“This is an extremely significant and courageous decision by five international jurists who confirm what we have been saying for over two years: Steven Donziger has been subject to an illegal detention orchestrated by Chevron and two ideologically-driven trial judges who are retaliating against him for winning a major pollution judgement in Ecuador against a powerful U.S. corporation,” Garbus said.
“We are calling on Judge Preska to release Steven immediately pending the outcome of his appeal, where we fully expect him to be exonerated,” Garbus added.
Read the UN WAGA ruling: