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People’s Health Tribunal finds Shell & Total guilty of harming African communities

Communities from Uganda, Mozambique, the Niger Delta and South Africa presented the People’s Health Tribunal with 12 cases.

Protesters during a Stop EACOP demonstration in a photo shared on February 8, 2023

A panel of environmental and human rights activists acted as judges in a People’s Health Tribunal organised by communities on the African continent impacted by the operations of extractive corporations Shell and TotalEnergies.

Communities from Uganda, Mozambique, the Niger Delta and South Africa presented the People’s Health Tribunal with 12 cases that relayed an enormous breadth of violence inflicted by Shell and Total, and underwritten by national governments, multilateral bodies and other non-state actors.

Broadly, testimonies given across sites where Shell and Total operate coalesce around several important themes: forced displacement, pollution - of air, water sources and soils, chronic health conditions, traumatisation, intimidation, and criminalisation.

All accounts also portray a troubling capture of state power by these companies, which is frequently used to reinforce the above through both direct violence and murder.


The Tribunal found the corporations guilty of harming the health of people across Africa.

Nigerian architect Nnimmo Bassey, American researcher & activist Jacqueline Patterson, Canadian activist Kanahus Manuel, and Pan-African humanist Dimah Mahmoud condemned Shell and Total’s activities, stating that they were “extremely harmful to the livelihoods, health, right to shelter, quality of life, right to live in dignity, quality of environment, right to live free of discrimination and oppression, right to clean water, and right to self-determination.”

This edition of the People’s Health Tribunal was built as activists witnessed extensive greenwashing by the oil and gas industry at COP27 in Egypt last year.

Decades of exploitation of African land have resulted in devastating consequences, including air pollution, water contamination, deforestation, violence, land grabbing, and forced migration.


Omar Elmawi, who provided an overview of TotalEnergies’s impact on Mozambican communities, emphasized that in the current situation, “everyone loses, except Total.”

Elmawi said he believed that African countries must take control of their own resources and development to make sure that justice is restored.

Governments in the Global North, where most extractive corporations have their headquarters, still choose to ignore the destruction caused by these industries.

In 2022, Shell made a profit of $40 billion, while TotalEnergies ended the year with $36 billion in profits.

Read the tribunal's full verdict: People’s Health Tribunal – Verdict



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