(Note: translated from French by GRAIN)
Press release regarding the judicial harassment and intimidation of Nasako Besingi
The Special rapporteur on human rights defenders of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Reine Alapini Gansou, expresses her concern regarding allegations of judicial harassment and intimidation of Nasako Besingi. Mr. Besingi is Director of Struggle to Economise Future Environment (SEFE), an NGO based in the village of Mundemba, Cameroon, which defends the land rights of local communities in the context of the expansion of oil palm plantations.
According to our sources, on 21 January 2016, Besingi was accused of unlawful assembly and of organizing and inciting a protest. The same sources indicate that the charges are based on accusations made against Besingi by Herakles Farms in November 2014, following a demonstration in which t-shirts with the phrase “No plantations on our land; Herakles get out!” were distributed. According to the information we received, this is not the first time Besingi has been targeted because of his work as a human rights defender. On 3 November 2015 he was sentenced on trumped up charges [condamné pour des faits qu’il n’aurait pas reconnus]. The Special rapporteur on human rights defenders is deeply troubled by this situation.
The Special rapporteur calls on the Government of the Republic of Cameroon to fulfill its obligations to promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other regional and international legal instruments, including the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Grand Bay Declaration and the Kigali Declaration. The Special rapporteur thus invites the Government of Cameroon to take every effort to ensure justice for Nasako Besingi, protect his physical and psychological security and ensure that all human rights defenders in Cameroon are able to carry out their legitimate activities to promote and defend human rights without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
Banjul, 1 April 2016
Special rapporteur on human rights defenders of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights