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TotalEnergies accused of violating people’s property rights and right to food in Uganda

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Key facts:

In June 2023, 26 claimants launched a legal action in Paris against TotalEnergies over alleged human rights violations in the country, under the Duty of Vigilance Law.

TotalEnergies is accused of depriving Ugandans of their right to food and land in relation to two major projects in the country: the Tilenga exploration of 419 oil wells and a 1,500-kilometre (930-mile) pipeline bringing crude oil to the Tanzanian coast. The pipeline is named the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), of which TotalEnergies holds a 62% stake. A third of the oil wells are stated to be in a national park and the EACOP spans several nature reserves. The Tilenga and EACOP projects are implemented through subsidiaries, including TotalEnergies E&P Uganda and TotalEnergies EACOP Holding, and various subcontractors, notably Atacama and Newplan.

According to the French duty of vigilance law, TotalEnergies, as the parent company, is also liable for the companies it controls directly or indirectly and those of sub-contractors and suppliers with which it has an “established commercial relationship”.

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2019 against TotalEnergies using a fast-track procedure. It was argued that the company had failed to comply with the duty of vigilance law. The claim was aimed at forcing TotalEnergie to update its vigilance plan and to put in place measures to ensure that violations would not occur.

As a result of the lawsuit, activists were said to have been targeted, threatened and subject to arbitrary arrests. The lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds in February 2023.

In parallel, in October 2023, Darwin Climax Coalitions, Sea Shepherd France, Wild Legal and Stop EACOP-Stop Total en Ouganda stated that they had filed a criminal complaint with the Nanterre prosecutor’s office regarding allegations of failure to prevent a disaster and involuntary homicide, destruction or damage of property belonging to another likely to endanger persons, akin to acts of “climaticide.”

Source(s):

Le Monde article and Reuters article

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