Two Ugandans are set to appear in court in France on Thursday as a legal case advances against French multinational petroleum company Total, which stands accused of violating the human rights of people living near its Tilenga project and harming the environment.
Fred Mwesigwa is a farmer who says he has faced numerous threats since May 2017 because of pressure to surrender his land without compensation, according to Survival, one of six nongovernmental organizations in France and Uganda that filed the suit in French courts.
Community leader and pastor Jelousy Mugisha will join him. “He is one of the last people to leave his house in the future industrial estate of Total, which he had to do because of the threats and despite the fact that Total has still not paid him compensation for this house,” the French NGO added.
The case, brought against Total in conjunction with Friends of the Earth France, is significant because it marks the first time that a new law is used to hold French companies accountable for specific harms that occur in other nations. The Due Diligence Act requires multinationals to be responsible for performing due diligence on human rights violations within their supply chains and for environmental impacts.
It was introduced following a 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh, and the NGOs filed with French courts to sue Total for its Uganda activities under the new law in October.
A report on Total from the French NGOs is available here.
Information from Total on the company’s position is available here.