Sierra Leone: Imprisonment for land rights activists

Green Scenery | 10 March 2016

“It is urgent to free Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa and Lahai Sellu,” Shiaka Sama explained.

Thursday 4th February 2016 was a dark moment for all Sierra Leonean land owners and users who try to defend their right to land and livelihood against large scale land acquisition as six anti-land grabbing activists were sent from the High Court directly into prison. Since 16th October 2013 Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa, Lahai Sellu and the former Member of Parliament Shiaka Musa Sama had faced an ongoing trial on orchestrated charges of incitement, conspiracy to commit a crime and the destruction of 40 growing plants of Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone. Right from the start, all of the now convicted had pleaded not guilty.

The Belgian-Luxembourgish consortium Socfin is establishing plantations in Sierra Leone to produce palm oil for export. Since 2011, the local population is standing up to intimidation and imprisonment and continuing to protest against the destruction of natural areas and land grabbing by Socfin and the national authorities. The six men who have been convicted now stood up for their right to land and livelihood as executive members of the Malen Affected Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA).

Now that the anti-land grabbing activists were found guilty, five of them have to pay thirty million leones (over $5,000) each or to stay in jail for five months. MALOA’s spokesperson, Shiaka Musa Sama, was asked to pay sixty million Leones (over $10,000) in order not to spend six months in prison. Thanks to people around the globe who have shown their solidarity and their readiness to help others the funds for the release of Shiaka Musa Sama were raised. He was released on – See more at: http://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/25867-sierra-leone-imprisonment-for-land-rights-activists#sthash.hr2ZP2Vk.dpuf

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