Climate of Fear: TotalEnergies implicated in repression of land and environmental defenders in East Africa

December 2023
Global Witness

This report from the international human rights NGO, Global Witness, is available to read directly on the organisation’s website as well as to download in English and Kiswahili. The report examines allegations of intimidation and repression against civil society activists in connection to the USD 5 billion East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline investment, linking Lake Albert’s Tilenga oil field in western Uganda to the port of Tanga on the Tanzanian coast. This major infrastructure project will create the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline, at 1,443 km, crossing protected areas, wildlife habits and indigenous lands and will affect an anticipated 100,000 people directly. The report is based on research carried out with local Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners in Uganda and Tanzania. It recounts a climate of fear among those opposed to the infrastructure development, which prevents CSOs and communities from directly challenging it themselves. TotalEnergies, responding to Global Witness through lawyers, strenuously denies all the allegations laid against it. However this contrasts with testimony of local people interviewed during the research that compensation claims have taken excessively long periods to be settled and paid, and even then have seriously undervalued the land that has been expropriated for the project. Among the recommendations made by Global Witness are calls for greater and more transparent debate on the project, more meaningful participation by communities in consultations about the use of their land for the project, and for commitments from the company and the Tanzanian and Ugandan governments to clamp down on abuses of police powers and to open up civic space for debate on major land investments such as this.