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Sierra Leone: Report alleges Socfin's operations exposing local communities to human rights violations including loss of livelihood & pollution; company denies allegations

A report by FIAN Belgium titled "Land Grabbing for Palm Oil in Sierra Leone : Analysis of the Socfin Case from a Human Rights Perspective" alleges that since the arrival of Socfin in 2011 as part of a large-scale investment in palm oil in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, social conflict has raged in the Malen Chiefdom. The report finds that affected communities who have lost access to and control over their land have been exposed to serious human rights violations and abuses since 2011. Several issues are raised in the report, spanning from the rights to land, food, water and a healthy environment, to workers’ rights, women’s rights, the rights of the elderly and the right to education. The report also points to serious allegations of corruption, lack of transparency and non-implementation of corporate social responsibility promises by Socfin. Socfin has denied the allegations; includes the company's response. 

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Company response
1 April 2019

Socfin's response

Author: Socfin

Socfin’s response to Fian’s “Draft report extracts made available to Socfin before publication – Provisional title: Land Conflict in Malen – Analysis and lessons learned from a human perspective”

Socfin denies allegation and argues amongst other things that they went through a lengthy process of consultation with the communities, resulting in an overall acceptance and support to the project; people were free to choose and some decided not to adhere to the project and kept their land. They further argue that they had a full Environmental Social and Health Impact Assessment study, which was done by Star Consult in 2010-2011, followed by its Public Disclosure made in June 2011. Which resulted in the Government of Sierra Leone granting  Socfin three different land lease totalling 18473 hectares (the Government of Sierra Leone leases the land from the land owners and then the Government of Sierra Leone sub-lease that land to Socfin).

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Article
12 March 2019

Sierra Leone: Communities lose access to and control over their land and were exposed to serious human rights violations and abuses since 2011: FIAN Belgium Report

Author: FIAN

“Land Grabbing for Palm Oil in Sierra Leone” 

FIAN Belgium publishes a new report "Land Grabbing for Palm Oil in Sierra Leone : Analysis of the SOCFIN Case from a Human Rights Perspective"… Since the arrival of multinational agribusiness company SOCFIN in 2011 as part of a large-scale investment in palm oil in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, social conflict has raged in the Malen Chiefdom. SOCFIN is controlled by a Belgian businessman (Hubert Fabri) and the French group Bolloré, which has developed a business empire in many parts of Africa.

This report found that affected communities who have lost access to and control over their land have been exposed to serious human rights violations and abuses since 2011. Several issues emerged, spanning from the rights to land, food, water and a healthy environment, to workers’ rights, women’s rights, the rights of the elderly and the right to education. Added to this are serious violations and abuses of civil and political rights, including the rights to peaceful assembly and association, physical integrity and clear cases of criminalization of human rights defenders. The report also points to serious allegations of corruption, lack of transparency and non-implementation of corporate social responsibility promises by SOCFIN.

The report is based on three fact-finding missions carried out by FIAN Belgium in collaboration with local and national organizations, in 2012, 2016 and 2018. It analyses the land conflict in Malen Chiefdom from a human rights perspective, exploring the extent to which human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled, and the extent to which states and non-state parties have upheld obligations arising from international human rights instruments. It also draws on existing reports and publications from international human rights experts, local and international NGOs, academics and journalists.

 

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