Nasako Besingi, Director of a leading environmental NGO, heavily sentenced for fighting the injustice of land-grabs in the South West of Cameroon

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3 November 2015

An environmentalist heavily sentenced in Cameroon!!!

Author: Centre for Environment and Development (CED), (Cameroon)

Mr. Nasako Besingi, Director of the NGO Struggle to Economize our Future Environment (SEFE) was sentenced today by a court in...Cameroon. Nasako Besingi was sued for defamation by the SGSOC Company and two of his former employees...judgment was finally passed on 3 November 2015, and the sentence is heavy for this activist: a fine of 1 million CFA Francs or 3 years imprisonment. He must also pay damages of 10 million CFA Francs to the two civil parties and costs of about 200,000 CFA Francs. Nasako has 24 hours to pay the amount of the fine, otherwise he will be imprisoned for 3 years...Barrister Adolf Malle, lawyer in Kumba, said he was surprised by the conviction of his client and said he would appeal the decision based on most questionable evidence. In 2012, while serving as guide to a team of television journalists making a documentary about the conflicts between Herakles Farms Company (SGSOC) and communities...Nasako Besingi was violently attacked by a group of people...He then wrote a report of the assault, which is now used as defamation. Mr. Nasako Besingi has been sued and arrested several times since the installation of the Herakles Farms Company (SGSOC) in the Southwest region, because of his denunciation of violations of the Law by this company, which started operations...before obtaining a legal land title...The opposition of communities, challenging the legality of the presence of the company on their land and who in their vast majority, condemned this attempt to grab their land, led to numerous conflicts with the company...For Samuel Nguiffo, Secretary General of the Centre for Environment and Development, “The massive influx of investors in the exploitation of land and natural resources can lead to more conflicts of this nature, and it is important that the administration and justice in our country be prepared to manage these tensions. Failure to comply with the law when installing SGSOC Company in the Southwest has been the source of many problems, and the Government must learn from this experience”.

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24 August 2015

Complaint before US Govt. alleging intimidation by SGSOC/Herakles Farms in land transfers in Cameroon resolved in accord between company, NGOs

Author: Melike Ann Yetken, U.S. National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

"U.S. NCP Final Statement CED/RELUFA on the Specific Instance between the Center for Environment and Development (CED) with Network to Fight against Hunger (RELUFA) and Herakles Farms' affiliate SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) in Cameroon", 28 July 2015

...[The] U.S. NCP [National Contact Point under the OECD Guidelines] offered mediation to assist the parties... The offer...was accepted by all parties...The mediation successfully concluded with a mutually agreed upon resolution signed by all parties. This concludes the first mediation conducted by the office of the U.S. NCP that reached a mutually agreed resolution...

...[In 2013], CED and RELUFA...submitted a Specific Instance to the...U.S. NCP... alleging conduct inconsistent with the...OECD Guidelines in connection with SGSOCs’ operations in Cameroon. SGSOC is an affiliate of Herakles [Capital]... The Specific Instance points out various reports alleging intimidation and bribery of community leaders, government officials, and local citizens by SGSOC officials to gain land for their operations...

SGSOC agreed to receive a written request from CED/RELUFA within one month of the signing of the agreement regarding the investigation of any past cases of alleged corruption, and to investigate credible cases. SGSOC will give a written response back to CED/RELUFA within three months of receipt of the written request. SGSOC will act with the intention of showing their good faith in opposing and taking action against any acts of corruption... 

One year after publication of this statement, the U.S. NCP requests each party submit a follow-up report to the NCP identifying the status of the agreement and any impacts.

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5 June 2015

Herakles abandons all operations in Mundemba and Toko concession areas, Cameroon

Author: Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), (Cameroon), IC Magazine, Center for World Indigenous Studies

Herakles Farms, a New York based investment Firm and the parent company of SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC) which has been under the spotlight of increasing local and international opposition for its intention to establish oil palm plantations in protected areas...has abandoned all operations in the Mundemba and Toko Subdivisions respectively and in Ndian Division on May 29, 2015...The decision was announced to the few remaining workers...After their shifts, affected workers notified Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE) of developments...But a Presidential decree signed in November 2013, granted the company 19,843 ha of land lease for a 3 year probation period. The decree also demanded the company fulfill certain conditions which were not met, notably in the development of social facilities, conducting an environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in the new concession, and payment of land rents...workers were awarded certificates of appreciation and asked to go to the Divisional Office of receive money. Workers were left unclear if these represented wages for the month of May or compensation for the entire period they have worked in the company...This is not the first time that Herakles has laid off their workers without compensation...the company laid off its managers and personnel at its Limbe office...Reports...indicate villagers are very happy with the news.

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12 February 2014

Environmentalists in Cameroon need your support!

Author: Rainforest Rescue

“They may threaten and sue us, but the palm oil company is not going to stop our struggle for nature,” writes Nasako Besingi from Cameroon. The environmentalist will be on trial in March for defending rainforest land against Herakles Farms, a U.S.-based palm oil company...Environmentalist Nasako Besingi and his organization SEFE (Struggle to Economize Future Environment) are fighting for the rights of local communities and protecting the rainforests of southwestern Cameroon...For the past three years, U.S. investors have been trying to clear the rainforest for oil palm plantations. Protests by residents and environmentalists have managed to stall the New York-based Herakles Farms’ project to a large degree. The company has only been able to cut down a few hectares of rainforest to date and had to downsize its plans considerably prior to that: Instead of the requested 70,000 hectares, the government “only” approved plantations totaling 20,000 hectares. Local communities and Nasako Besingi are fighting for every single tree and are now being targeted by intimidation, legal complaints, arrests and lawsuits...In late December 2013, Nasako was summoned at the request of Herakles Farms for “publication of false news via the internet”, an accusation based on a private e-mail he wrote in August 2012. In it, he reports how he was ambushed by junior managers of the company. Herakles referred to the men as “local service providers”.

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