A panel of environmental and human rights activists acted as judges in a People’s Health Tribunal organized by communities on the African continent impacted by the operations of extractive corporations Shell and TotalEnergies. Supported by organizations like Medact, We the People, the People’s Health Movement, and #StopEACOP, on May 20, the Tribunal found the corporations guilty of harming the health of people across Africa.
Nnimmo Bassey, Jacqueline Patterson, Kanahus Manuel, and 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.