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CAMEROON CONVICTS ACTIVIST FIGHTING AGAINST PALM OIL COMPANY

11/23/2015

Nasako Besingi, an activist from Cameroon, was convicted of four criminal counts against palm oil company Herakles Farms, a U.S.-based palm oil company that operates in Cameroon. Besingi is the director of the Cameroonian NGO Struggle to Economize our Future Environment (SEFE), a group that has led resistance against palm oil plantations in Cameroon. Besingi was convicted of two counts of defamation and two counts of propagation of false news after three years of legal battles. He was sentenced to either three years in prison or a fine of $2,400. Environmental and human rights organizations, including Greenpeace Africa and the Environmental Investigation Agency, are challenging the charges and calling for the end of repression against Besingi and other activists. Herakles Farms was granted a production area of 20,000 hectares in northwest Cameroon in 2012. Conservationists disapproved of the project stating that the palm oil plantations will jeopardize important habitat for threatened species. Herakles Farms argues that their project is environmentally sustainable and socio-economically beneficial to surrounding communities. A Greenpeace report issued in 2014 stated that Herakles Farms engaged in illegal logging and colluded with government officials to sell illegal timber to China. Nasako Besingi was awarded the 2012 TAIGO prize for his work campaigning against the Herakles Farms and was nominated by Jeune Afrique newspaper as one of the most notable human rights defenders of 2014. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2015/11/cameroon-convicts-activist-campaigning-against-palm-oil-company/