December 5, 2023

Collin Rees,, +1 308 293 3159

COP28: Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné to Call for Release of Imprisoned Ugandan Stop EACOP activists

DUBAI, UAE — Stop EACOP activists this morning confronted Patrick Pouyanné, the Chief Executive Officer of Total, to call for release of imprisoned Ugandan Stop EACOP activists. In the exchange Zaki Mamdoo, coordinator of the Stop Eacop campaign asks the Total CEO whether  he will call for immediate release of students,  Pouyanné says “this is what we’re doing today.”

Watch the footage here:

On the 24th of November 2023, seven student activists were arbitrarily arrested for peacefully petitioning the Ugandan Parliament against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project – shining a light on the dangerous dissonance between Uganda’s oil ambitions and urgent climate action. The students were held in police custody for four days before being remanded to the Luzira Maximum Prison after the state prosecutor failed to appear in court on the 28th of November. They will be held at the prison until the 8th of December, 2023.

As COP28 continues, we call on the international community to amplify this issue and uplift the demands to phase out fossil fuels and push for greater renewable energy ambition globally. As renewable energy presents a safe, sustainable, more just pathway for Africa, we urge Uganda to walk back its retrogressive attacks on those shining light on the dangers of EACOP. We call on all media, civil society and human rights institutions to amplify this issue and demand justice for these youth climate leaders wrongfully deprived of their liberty.


“Despite TotalEnergies’ proclaimed human rights commitments, the reality is that civil society groups in Uganda have faced retaliation and repression for speaking out against planned oil developments. This hostile climate for human rights defenders and journalists limits meaningful participation in decision-making by community members.

“TotalEnergies led all international oil and gas majors in approving new oil and gas expansion in 2022 — plans and investments that are strikingly inconsistent with the findings of the IPCC that immediate and rapid action to phase out fossil fuels is necessary to hold global warming to 1.5°C,” said Thuli Brilliance Makama, Africa Director at Oil Change International. 

“TotalEnergies’ presence at COP is an anomaly. We just learned today that fossil fuel lobbyists have a delegation that is larger than the 10 most vulnerable countries combined.They’re not coming to COP to fight climate change but to protect their profits and defend business as usual – and there business as usual comes together with human rights infringements. TotalEnergies has a long track record of complicity in human rights violations (e.g., in Burma) and of working with criminal regimes (e.g., Russia). TotalEnergies’ oil is blood oil. TotalEnergies’ gas is blood gas. TotalEnergies’ profits are blood profits.

“The very least Patrick Pouyanné can do is indeed use his presence at COP to call for the immediate release of these students & agree to an independent investigation,” said Nicolas Haeringer,

“These unlawful arrests, amid the ongoing repression of human rights, environmental and land defenders in Uganda, should serve as a reminder of the violence that is so characteristic of extractive industry all across the world and within the global South and Africa in particular. As we call for the phase out fossil fuels at COP28, we must also take this opportunity to  spotlight the impunity with which the hold the  fossil fuel industry operates and hold it to account for putting profit over people.Total needs to not only make good its call for the release of our activists but also halt this harmful project altogether,” said Zaki Mamdoo, Coordinator of the StopEACOP Campaign.

“We strongly condemn using the judiciary to punish those with dissenting views against the EACOP project. Jailing peaceful protestors who were merely exercising their democratic right to petition their elected leaders sets an extremely dangerous precedent,” said Nkurunziza Alphonse, one of the student leaders in Uganda.

“We call for the charges of incitement of public violence laid against the activists to be dropped entirely. The rights of all people who choose to demonstrate and voice their opposition to EACOP peacefully must be upheld and protected by the powers,” said Brighton Aryampa, the lawyer on record.

“We denounce the weaponisation of Uganda’s courts against climate, land and human rights defenders. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of these peaceful student protestors. They are simply asserting themselves as legitimate stakeholders in a project which stands to unravel the social fabric of many Ugandan communities,” said Brian Atuheire, Co-Founder and Executive Director of AIFE Uganda. 

About StopEACOP

#StopEACOP is a global campaign against constructing the East African Crude Oil pipeline (EACOP). This proposed 1,443-kilometer heated pipeline will transport oil from Hoima, Uganda, to the port of Tanga in Tanzania. An alliance of local groups, communities, and African and global organisations leads the campaign. The #StopEACOP Coalition has been calling for a stop to the proposed pipeline and associated oil fields at Tilenga and Kingfisher. The #StopEACOP campaign is gathering momentum, building pressure on the remaining supporters and financiers of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. AEGIS London, Arch Capital Group Ltd and Britam Holdings recently announced they would not offer the project insurance coverage. So far, 27 major banks and 23 major (re)insurers have ruled out support for the pipeline. Some key financial institutions yet to commit to not funding EACOP include ICBC and Standard Bank.