Activists expressed disappointment after a French court dismissed on Tuesday a case filed by six French and Ugandan environmental and human rights groups.
The case involves French oil giant TotalEnergies and the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) from Uganda to Tanzania.
"We had hoped that our case would be determined based on merits, not just technicalities that the court is using. The court would take into account this was the first case filed under a new law. It would come up with innovative ways of assuring that those who are coming to get justice, they get justice. But when you make a decision of this nature, under a new law of this nature, you are almost telling everyone 'please, don't come'" said Dickens Kamugisha, Chief Executive of AFIEGO (African Institute for Energy Governance).
The activists accused TotalEnergies, the lead investor in the $5 billion project, of doing little to protect the environment and people.
"And this one is likely to have even bigger impacts on the cases we have at the East African court of justice, the cases we have in Uganda. We've been facing already problems here in the courts in Uganda and now they will be saying 'if they can't win in France, even here, why should we even be caring'", concluded the chief executive of AFIEGO.
Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni,recently assured Ugandans that nothing that has already been agreed regarding this project can change.