NGOs file suit against Total over Uganda oil project

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By Witnessradio.org Team

In a civil suit filed in a French court, six Non -Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have accused Total over its oil drilling project in Uganda saying the French energy giant has failed to forestall what they term as “disastrous impacts” for the local communities and biodiversity.

It’s public knowledge that Total envisages drilling 419 wells near Lake Albert in western Uganda for the Tilenga project, which could produce some 200, 000 barrels of crude oil.

Many of the wells will be in the Murchison Falls national park and already many native communities have been displaced from their lands.

The NGOs that have dashed to court are Earth France, Survie, AFIEGO, CRED, NAPE /Friends of the Earth Uganda and NOVODA in suit they say is “first-ever legal action of its kind – seeking emergency proceedings against Total for noncompliance of its legal obligations under the 2017 French duty of vigilance law, which aims to address corporate negligence.”

The group want the Nanterre based court to force Total to conform with a 2017 law requiring it to elaborate a “ vigilance plan “ to prevent serious infringements of health and human rights as well as environmental change.

The cited French law was passed in the wake of the Rana disaster in Bangladesh in 2013.  The calamity led to the killing of more than a thousand people following the collapse of poorly maintained building housing garment companies working for Western brands.

“The disastrous impacts of this project are already being felt by thousands of people whose lands and homes have been confiscated,” said Thomas BART OF THE French NGO Survie which is translated as survival.

For the uninitiated, the Tilanga project was launched after the 2006 discovery of a field that could hold over 1.5 billion barrels of crude, a boon for Uganda, which hopes to export oil via a pipeline to Tanzania.

“in addition to the urgent need to put an end to this scandalous project, this unprecedented legal case is also a legitimate sign of recognition that transnational corporations have new and very concrete legal obligations under this law, “ Juliette Renaud, the corporate accountability senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth France said in a statement released on Wednesday. “ We hope this legal action will mark a turning point, and the jurisprudence created could serve for many other cases. We will, therefore, defend the letter and the spirit of the law, which is a major step forward in fighting corporate impunity.”

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