The Oil Justice Project: Telling the Stories

Tom Lebert, Senior International Programmes Officer (Resources & Conflict) at War on Want writes:

Globally the operation of big oil companies has been devastating. Communities have been displaced from their lands, local environments have been irreparably polluted, and violations of human rights have been widespread. This has certainly been the case with BP and other oil companies who started operating in the Casanare region of Colombia in the early 1990’s. There is evidence of kidnapping, torture, murder and disappearances. According to the Colombia Human Rights Data Analysis Group, an estimated 9000 people were murdered and 3000 have disappeared in Casanare over the past two decades. One of those kidnapped was Gilberto Torres, who is bringing a case for compensation against BP and other oil companies in the High Court in London, with the help of law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn (DPG) in the UK and Francisco Ramirez Cuellar in Colombia.

The Oil Justice Project, which is a collaboration between War on Want, DPG, and the Colombian NGO COSPACC, aims to tell the stories of the victims of ‘Big Oil’ and to hold these companies to account where corporate crimes have been committed. To highlight these abuses in Colombia the Oil Justice Project is welcoming Gilberto Torres and Francisco Ramirez Cuellar on a UK-wide speaker tour from 11 to 23 October 2015.

Gilberto Torres is a former trade unionist with Union Sindical Obrera (USO) (representing workers in the oil industry) who was abducted and tortured by paramilitaries in 1992, and now lives in exile. He believes his abduction was ordered and assisted by Ocensa, a joint venture pipeline company part-owned and operated by BP.

Francisco Ramirez Cuellar is a trade unionist and lawyer with the Colombian Unified Trade Union Federation. As a result of his legal and campaign work challenging multinationals who have committed serious environmental and human right abuses in Colombia, amounting to war crimes, he has been targeted and threatened.

As part of this speaker tour the following events have been planned:

  1.  Speaking Engagement and Cultural Event – London (12 October)

Venue: Unite House, 128 Theobalds Road, Holborn, WC1X 8TN Time: 6pm

  1.  Public Speaking Event – Brighton (14 October)

Venue: University of Sussex Time: 5:30pm

  1.  Public Speaking Event – Oxford (15 October) 

Venue: Okinaga Room, Wadham College, Oxford University Time: 7:30pm

  1.  Public Speaking Event – Bristol (16 October)

Venue: To be confirmed Time: To be confirmed

  1.  Speaking Engagement and Cultural Event – Cardiff (17 October) 

Venue: Temple of Peace, Kind Edward VII Avenue, Cathays Park, CF10 3AP Time: 6pm

  1.  Public Speaking Event – Newcastle (19 October) 

Venue: To be confirmed Time: To be confirmed

  1.  Public Speaking Event – Edinburgh (20 October)

Venue: To be confirmed Time: To be confirmed

  1.  Public Speaking Event – Cambridge (21 October)

Venue: Department of Criminology, Cambridge University Time: 5pm

  1.  Public Speaking Event – London (22 October)

Venue: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London Time: 6pm

  1.  Fundraising Event – London (23 October)

Venue: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincolns Inn Field, WC2A 3LJ Time: 6:30pm

If you are interested in attending any of these events please RSVP to Tom Lebert at