CSOs want to reanimate the dialogue on Socfin in Malen Chiefdom: over 120,000 signatures to be handed over to Government

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On 16 June 2016, CSOs joined hands in organising a press conference on the current situation of the Malen Affected Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA) and their continuous struggle for their right to land and livelihood in view of the large-scale land investment by Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone Ltd. in Pujehun District.
Society for Democratic Initiative, Green Scenary and MALOA | 16 June 2016

PRESS STATEMENT

Civil Society Organisations want to reanimate the dialogue on Socfin in Malen Chiefdom: over 120,000 signatures to be handed over to Government

On 16th of June 2016, a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) joined hands in organising a Press Conference on the current situation of the Malen Affected Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA) and their continuous struggle for their right to land and livelihood in view of the large-scale land investment by Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone Ltd. in Pujehun District. We wish to present the freed MALOA 6 to the national and international public as fait accompli.

The campaign for freeing of the MALOA 6 was a reaction to the imprisonment of six members of MALOA on 4th of February 2016, CSOs in Sierra Leone and around the world had published petitions on the international websites of ActionAid France, Rainforest Rescue and Avaaz asking His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma, for the immediate release of the MALOA-6. A concurrent fundraising campaign was fruitful: 210,000,000 Leones were collected and used for the payment of all fines. Since the beginning of May all of the MALOA-6 were out of prison. Joseph Rahall, Executive Director of Green Scenery, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai of Society for Democratic Initiative, and Mustapha Wai of Mamba TV (USA) and Pujehun District Descendant Association were among the driving forces in the process: “We are grateful for the generous support of our numerous partners. Many people national and international contributed to our fundraising campaign and over 130,000 signed the petitions in support of MALOA. The signatures we will hand over to the President through the appropriate representative.”

We need a solution to the persistent conflict in Malen Chiefdom. 
As Civil Society Organisations we wish to let the public understand that we need a solution to the persistent conflict in Malen Chiefdom. Therefore we are encouraged by the President’s declaration during the inauguration of the new Socfin palm oil mill, that his Government was open for round table talks if the need arises. We believe that the need has always been there and it is now imperative to approach the table together for serious dialogue for the common good of all.”

MALOA’s spokesperson Honorable Shiaka Musa Sama pointed out that MALOA wants to reanimate the dialogue with Socfin, the Chiefdom Authorities and the Government: “The problems remain and solutions are desperately needed. Socfin started with 6,500 hectares in 2011, today its palm oil plantation already covers over 12,000 hectares of Malen Chiefdom and its concession area spans 18,400hmore than half the area of the chiefdom. The livelihood of many people depends on this land and it is important that we sit down together again to create a win-win situation for everybody”. In the past, many protests against Socfin had erupted and been repressed. MALOA and its supporters are still not even allowed to hold consultation meetings. Land owners and users complained not only about the lack of information, consultation and transparency with regard the acquisition of land by Socfin but also about the inadequacy of the compensation including crop compensation and the rent they received.

MALOA’s spokesperson Honorable Shiaka Musa Sama (left) pointed out that MALOA wants to reanimate the dialogue with Socfin, the Chiefdom Authorities and the Government
The Executive Director of the Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI), Emmanuel Abdulai, will shed light on the legal procedures around MALOA and Socfin. He shall inform this gathering on an appeals procedure that has been launched around the case of the MALOA-6. We are currently deliberating a number of approaches and questions to the MALOA matter. These questions have to be answered for progress to be made.

Organizations:
Society for Democratic Initiative, Center Democracy and Human Rights, Center for Accountability and Rule of Law Partners in Conflict Transformation, Women’s Network on Environmental Sustainability, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone Adult Education Association, Search for Common Grounds, Campaign for Good Governance, Institute for Governance Reform, Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food, Action Aid, Network Movement for Justice and Development, Native Consortium and Research Center, United for the Protection of Human Rights, Center for Coalition of Human Right Activists, Community Empowerment for Poverty Alleviation, Affected Families Land Owners Association, Malen Affected Land Owners and Users Association, Rural Agency for community Action Programme, Sustainable Environment and Development Action, Bureh Kasseh Makonte Land Owners Association, Campaign for Just Mining.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT THE FOLLOWING ORGANISATIONS:
  • Society for Democratic Initiative: [email protected]
  • Green Scenery: [email protected]
  • MALOA: [email protected]
Original source: SFDI et al
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