RRI Partner Centre for Environment and Development (CED) has reported that Nasako Besingi, the director of the NGO Struggle to Economize the Future (SEFE) based in Mundemba (Southwest Cameroon), was arrested on November 13, 2012 by members of the national military police. He has since been detained on the military police premises in Mundemba. Nasako Besingi was arrested at the offices of SEFE with three of his collaborators.

Nasako Besingi is the most well-known actor in the debate concerning the American company HERAKLES Farms and its establishment of a controversial palm oil plantation on 73,000 hectares in Southwest Cameroon. As a spokesperson for local communities concerned about the current project developments, Nasako has worked tirelessly to ensure that the views of communities affected by the project were heard. He faced continuous harassment from project supporters and from the company SGSOC (HERAKLES), which has recently pursued legal action against him.     

UPDATE (As of November 17, 12:47 PM EST): According to latest news from CED, Nasako Besingi, director of Struggle to economize the future (SEFE), and three employees were released Friday evening, November 16, 2012. Their release was secured under the condition that if they don't appear when invited to do so by the authorities, some community members who requested their release will have to pay 1,500 US dollars for each of the 4 persons who were in jail.

Everything suggests that the case is not yet over.  Nasako and his colleagues were arrested in their office during the visit of the Governor of the South-west Mundemba.

HERAKLES’s presence in the region is considered a security risk by those opposed to the project, and as a threat to local communities’ rights. Its reputation is tarnished by an abundance of illegal activities: for example, the treaty of establishment linking SGSOC to the Cameroonian State gives the company the right to “arrest and detain” any person crossing the concession, a clause that violates both national law and international conventions ratified by Cameroon. Moreover, the company does not have a lease agreement with the State and therefore does not have the legal right to conduct its operations in the areas where it is located. Click here to read the CED press release.

Also available in French

For more information, contact:

Samuel Nguiffo (CED): +237 99 95 28 49    [email protected]    –    [email protected]

Brendan Schwartz (RELUFA): +237 79 82 81 20   [email protected]