The suspension of operations at Herakles Farms has generated a number of stories in the international and Cameroonian press. Links to recent articles are listed below. Here are some highlights from Cameroon.
“Herakles Farms accused of not having told the truth about its project in Cameroon,” reports business publication, Investir au Cameroun (Invest in Cameroon). The article, in French, includes a statement from the minister in charge of forests, Ngolle Philip Ngwesse, who emphasized that the Establishment Convention signed in 2009 did not exempt the company from respecting procedures and laws. The article also reports that Greenpeace and Cameroonian NGO, Center for the Environment and Development, have called for a moratorium on all new concessions.
Free Speech Radio News features reporting by Ngala Killian Chimtom in the concession area. The story, Local residents in Cameroon raise concerns about massive U.S.-backed palm oil plantation, is online. Another story, Advocacy groups say internal documents from Herakles Farms point to corruption, bribery in Cameroon palm oil plantation, is also available online.
On May 15th, Cameroonian journalist Christelle Kouetcha Tcheulatchue was awarded a 2013 “Bibi Ngota Journalism Against Impunity” award for her July 2012 special report on Herakles Farms. Kouetcha, a reporter at Le Quotidien de l’Economie in Douala, put together an in-depth report on the Herakles Farms project featuring interviews with officials, community leaders and ordinary citizens across the concession area.
Bibi Ngota was a Cameroonian journalist who died in prison in April 2010. Ngota, editor of the monthly Cameroon Express, was arrested after he and three other journalists sent questions to presidential advisor, Laurent Esso, about allegations of embezzlement of public funds. Ngota had known health problems and was denied medical care; he died in prison during pre-trial detention. Cameroonian writer, Patrice Nganang, and other human rights activists established the Bibi Ngota Journalism Against Impunity award in 2012 to honor investigative journalists whose work seeks to break the silence of impunity, “one of the main characteristics of dictatorships.” The prize is administered by Cameroonian human rights organization, Tribunal Article 53.
For more information on the status of press freedom in Cameroon, see the 2012 report from Freedom House.
Press and Media on Herakles Farms/SGSOC week of May 20th, 2013
(One of several stories taken from the AFP wire published on 24/5)