People's Tribunal for Justice and Reconciliation, Uganda
The Make Big Polluters Pay global campaign was launched in 2019 to ensure that those largely responsible for the climate crisis are held accountable, and alternative paths are found for reparations in the face of corporate abuses, human rights violations, and de-struction of the planet.
Conveners of the Make Big Polluters Pay campaign in Africa held a retreat in Uganda from the 15th – 17th of May 2023 and were hosted by the Kasenyi community in Buliisa District. This retreat included a community visit, dialogue, and a mock trial which was referred to as “The People’s Tribunal on Justice and Reconciliation.”
The People’s Tribunal was used as a platform to amplify the voices of community mem-bers, and to bring their claims of environmental and human rights infractions against them to light. The tribunal also assessed whether TotalEnergies has a case to answer, and to ensure these communities get the justice they deserve.
Summary of the Emerging claims
- TotalEnergies came into the community to carry out oil exploration and extraction activities around the year 2017 in Buliisa District which include villages such as Kasinyi, Kigoya, Kirama, Kiyere, Kigwera among others.
- TotalEnergies and its contractors commenced site preparation activities for the Industrial Area in Kasinyi village, located in Ngwedo Sub-County, Buliisa District.
- The site preparation activities included bush clearing, fencing and other activities.
- The site preparation and accompanying activities were carried out at the expense of the community people, predominantly farmers, who are the original land owners.
- By virtue of the activities of TotalEnergies, the communities of Kasinyi, Kigoya, Kirama, Kiyere, Kigwera among others have now been displaced.
- TotalEnergies, through its agents prepared agreement forms and approached land owners to sign for the purpose of yielding over their properties.
- The affected persons were also presented with consent forms, property/Assets Inventory forms, and notice to handover possession.
- Some of the displaced persons claimed they were reluctant to sign the agreement.
- Some project-affected persons who were reluctant to sign the agreement eventually signed due to feelings of intimidation, caused by the presence of armed men.
- Some project-affected persons who signed as couples were made to open joint accounts for compensation which led to family conflicts.
- Some of the displaced persons were poorly compensated.
- Some of the displaced persons were not compensated at all.
- TotalEnergies fenced off premises of some community members, resulting into isolation, loss of livelihood and insecurity.
- Some community members claim to have developed health complications as a result of the dust generated from the company’s activities such as clearing, grading and leveling the acquired land.