February 4, 2016 was a dark moment for farmers in Sierra Leone, writes the environmental and human rights organization Green Scenery in Freetown. The High Court of the West African country sentenced five members of the Malen Affected Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA) to five months in prison. The organization’s spokesman is facing a six-month sentence.
Activists Sima Mattia, Kinnie James Blango, Musa Sellu, Foday Musa, Lahai Sellu and a former Member of Parliament, Shiaka Musa Sama, endured a show trial that had dragged on since October 2013. Their alleged offense: incitement and conspiracy to commit a crime and the destruction of 40 oil palm seedlings belonging to Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone.
The six had tried to defend their rights to their land and their livelihoods against wholesale land grabbing by Socfin.
“The six have done nothing wrong, that’s why I cannot believe that justice was denied today. How can you pay a meagre two US dollars per acre of land per year and not expect people to speak up”, says one of the women who lost their land in Pujehun District.
Please sign Green Scenery’s petition to the president of Sierra Leone on behalf of the jailed activists.