- Does forced labor still exist in Myanmar. If so, does Total E&P Myanmar use it?
- Did the Army commit human rights violations when ensuring the security of the construction project and the facilities?
- Does Total's presence in the country support an unacceptable regime?
- Have legal proceedings been instituted against Total? What was the outcome?
- Why has Total stayed in Myanmar while many other Western companies have left?
- Is the Socio-Economic Program scaled to meet Myanmar's problems?
- Have any third parties objectively and independently tested the quantitative claims of success made by your company with respect to the socio-economic program?
- Is there any way to monitor how the revenues generated by the Yadana project are used by the Myanmar government?
Question 5. Have legal proceedings been instituted against Total? What was the outcome?
In 1996, Myanmar nationals filed lawsuits in U.S. federal courts and, later, in California state courts, seeking compensation from Unocal. These civil claims alleged abuse of Myanmar villagers by government troops and assigned indirect liability to Unocal, an affiliate of which is a participant in the offshore PSC and a shareholder in MGTC, the Yadana pipeline operator. A settlement was signed between the plaintiffs and Unocal in March 2005.
In Europe, two lawsuits were filed in 2002 against Total, its Chairman and the former president of its affiliate in Myanmar.
The first was filed in Belgium on April 25, 2002 by four Myanmar refugees, who cited “complicity in crimes against humanity” under Belgium’s Universal Jurisdiction Act of June 16, 1993 relative to serious violations of international human rights.
The law was repealed by the Act of August 5, 2003, which included a procedure for terminating certain proceedings that were under way.
The Belgian Cour de Cassation subsequently dismissed the proceedings against Total in a ruling dated June 29, 2005.
On June 21, 2006, the Belgian Cour d’Arbitrage annulled the procedure provided for by the Act of August 5, 2003. However, the consequences of this decision do not affect the Cour de Cassation’s ruling, under the principle of res judicata. In a ruling dated March 28, 2007, this court confirmed that the proceedings had been dismissed definitely.
The second lawsuit was filed in France on August 26, 2002 by eight Myanmar nationals citing “complicity in unlawful confinement.” They alleged that they had been forced by the Myanmar army to provide what they deemed to be compulsory labor for the construction of the Yadana gas pipeline.
Total has always maintained that the accusations made against the Company are without substance as a matter of fact and as a matter of law.
Total and the French non-governmental organization Sherpa representing the eight Myanmar nationals entered into a settlement agreement on November 29, 2005. Under the terms of the agreement, we created a €5.2-million solidarity fund to compensate the eight plaintiffs as well as any other person who can demonstrate that they suffered a similar experience in the area near the pipeline construction corridor. The fund will also be used to finance humanitarian actions benefiting Myanmar refugees in the region.
At the beginning of 2006, a joint committee was set up to run the solidarity fund. The Committee approved 361 individual requests for compensation and paid out €146,000 through the National Catholic Commission on Migration (NCCM), a local NGO. The applicants had to demonstrate that they had been present in the pipeline corridor between 1995 and 1997 and state they had been forced to provide labor by the military. However, none claimed to have worked on the Yadana project.
At the same time, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was granted €2.5 million in May 2006 to finance collective actions in refugee camps in Thailand, along the border with Myanmar. The other recipients of funds were the NCCM (€500,000), the Pree Cha Yan Foundation, located in Mae Sot in northwestern Thailand (€73,000), Asian Veterinary & Livestock Services located in Sangklaburi (€174,000) and Les Enfants du Mékong (€55,000). The grants were spent on agricultural, social and educational development projects primarily intended for Karen and Môn refugees living along the border with Thailand.
So far, individual applicants and foreign or local humanitarian NGOs have been granted about €4 million by the Committee (from the solidarity fund totaling €5.2 million in November 2005). In mid-2008, the Committee examined similar projects.
On March 10, 2006, Nanterre’s Tribunal de Grande Instance dismissed the case.