Sweden: Prosecution of Lundin Energy executives with complicity in war crimes is milestone in long struggle for accountability

Amnesty International welcomes Swedish prosecutors’ decision to bring charges against two representatives of the oil and gas company Lundin Oil AB, now Lundin Energy AB, for “complicity in grave war crimes in Sudan from 1999 to 2003”.  With this landmark indictment, Swedish prosecutors have signaled that universal jurisdiction is a key mechanism for holding representatives of Swedish companies accountable, even for misconduct that took place outside Sweden and over two decades ago.

“Individuals who were affected by the company’s misconduct will now have an opportunity to testify before a Swedish court and we hope that survivors will also receive adequate remedy and compensation in the event of conviction”, said Ulrika Sandberg, senior business and human rights adviser at Amnesty Sweden.

Head of the Investigation and Public Prosecutor, Henrik Attorps, said: “It is important that these serious crimes are not forgotten. War crimes are some of the most serious crimes that Sweden has an international obligation to investigate and bring to justice. A large number of civilians suffered as a result of the Sudanese regime’s crimes, which we argue the indicted were complicit in. Many of the civilians who survived were forced to flee their homes and never return, and still today have no idea what happened to the relatives and friends from whom they were separated”.

Amnesty International was one of the first organisations to report on human rights violations in the area where Lundin Energy and other international oil companies were operating, in what is now South Sudan. The European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS), whose report Unpaid Debt led a Swedish prosecutor to open a preliminary investigation in 2010, estimated that 12,000 people lost their lives and that 160,000 were forced to flee.

Despite the publication of several reports making similar accusations against the company, Lundin Energy has neither commissioned an external audit to investigate these accusations, nor been willing to discuss any form of remediation or compensation for those affected.

Amnesty International hopes that the legal proceedings will help to clarify criminal liability standards for corporate actors complicit in serious international crimes, including during armed conflict. “The lawsuit is also extremely important for individuals and groups around the world who campaign for corporate accountability, especially in the extractive industry that so often affects local communities and the environment in a very invasive way”, said Ulrika Sandberg.


In 1997, the Swedish oil and gas company Lundin Energy AB, then Lundin Oil AB, entered into an agreement to extract oil with the government of what was then Sudan, led by President Omar al-Bashir, since charged with genocide by the International Criminal Court. Lundin Oil collaborated in a business consortium with the Malaysian company Petronas Carigali Overseas Sdn Bhd, the Austrian company OMV (Sudan) Exploration GmbH, and the Sudanese state oil company Sudapet Ltd. in a region called Block 5A.

The Swedish criminal proceedings focus on the connection between Lundin Energy’s business operations and the atrocities committed against the civilian population that allegedly took place to enable oil extraction in the Block 5A region. At the time of the events, the country was shaken by a civil war which, according to UN Special Procedures, was in part fuelled by the presence of oil companies. The horrific abuses, documented in several human rights reports, included forced recruitment of child soldiers and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.