Dutch parliament plans public hearing on N’Delta

The Dutch Parliament will on January 26, 2011 hold a public hearing on the Niger Delta and the operations of Shell in the region.

A member of the Dutch Parliament, Sharon Gesthuizen, said this on arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Sunday.

Gesthuien told newsmen that her visit would enable her to obtain first hand information on the deplorable conditions in the region, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

She explained that her visit to the country would also afford her the opportunity of meeting with oil companies operating in the region, most especially the Shell Petroleum Development Company.

“The Dutch media is daily awash with reports from the Niger Delta areas” she said.

The parliamentarian stated that governments of oil producing states in the country such as Rivers,Delta, Bayelsa, Edo, Cross River and Abia would be involved in the public hearing.

According to her, Non-governmental Organisations, Amnesty International, the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria, individuals, groups and other independent bodies are also expected to present reports at the hearing.

She noted that, the Dutch House of Parliament had received various conflicting reports from different quarters on the situation in the Niger Delta.

“For the House to be objective in its deliberation, I decided to visit the affected states for on-the- spot information,” Gesthuien said.

She explained that the public hearing, which is the first process in bringing solution to the crises in the area, was not to apportion blame but to provide a platform to every stakeholder in the region to present his or her position.

“For peace to return to the region, all stakeholders, including the multinational companies, will have to work harmoniously with one another.

“For any company to work comfortably in any country, four rules of the International Labour Organisation should be strictly adhered to,” she noted.

She listed the ILO rules to include, organisations not getting involved in slavery, child labour, non-discrimination and non-denial of workers’ rights to belong to unions.

Gesthuien said a report was published almost two years ago on the researches conducted in the Niger Delta, which presented a true picture of the situation in the area.

“What happens in the Netherlands is that we have rules telling the companies that wherever they operate and whatever country they are, they should always observe the four important ILO norms,” she observed.

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