To denounce violence against women and repression of local community activists, activists rally in front of the Bolloré Group General Assembly
On 29 May, the shareholders of the Bolloré group had to cross an alley of gagged activists to go to the Group's General Assembly. Activists also denounced violence against women in local communities.
Activists from several NGOs once again challenged executives and shareholders about the abuses caused by the activities of the socfin agro-industrial plantations, of which Bolloré is the second largest shareholder. The day before, activists infiltrated the Socfin General Assembly to recall the abuses suffered by the communities bordering these plantations, including handing over 3 recent reports from investigations in 5 countries. Activists gathered in front of the Bolloré tower insisted that the group's shareholders should not turn a blind eye to the violence generated around these monocultures: "Women in communities are the first to be affected by the conflicts around plantations: expropriations of isolated women, sexual abuse and violence, blackmail, destruction of property by security agents. Local activists are being repressed, as we have seen again this year in Sierra Leone. Those who try to relay the voices of the affected communities are intimidated by lawsuits," explains Marielle Benchehboune of the ReAct association.
In Sierra Leone, the conflict between the company and local communities flared up again in January 2019, leading to the deaths of two people, the arbitrary arrest of 15 activists and the forced displacement of hundreds of residents.
Moreover, since January, four trials of the Bolloré group against journalists and authors have been held. And as many trials as the Bolloré group lost, including three that ended up turning against it through convictions for abusive procedures. Several of these journalists had reported on the situation around these plantations. Since 2009, more than twenty defamation proceedings have been launched by Bolloré or Socfin in France and abroad. Given their scale, the collective On Ne Se Taira Pas considers these lawsuits to be akin to "gag prosecutions", aimed at pressuring, weakening financially and isolating any journalist, whistleblower or organization that would highlight the questionable activities and practices of economic giants such as the Bolloré group.
For several years, reports have been multiplying to denounce the conditions of land deprivation, pollution of rivers, deforestation, broken promises, or the repression of activists. Local communities regularly mobilize non-violently in Cameroon, Liberia, Cambodia and Sierra Leone to defend their rights. But the Bolloré group, which now owns 39.4% of the Socfin group, as well as stakes in its subsidiaries (Socfinaf and Socfinasia), is absolving itself of its responsibilities on its partner. After receiving representatives of local residents' organizations from 5 countries in October 2014, and negotiating an action plan with several NGOs in a case filed with the OECD's national contact point in relation to Socapalm's activities in Cameroon, he announced in December 2014 that he would not implement the action plan and has remained silent in the face of the demands of local communities since then.
In response to this refusal, several NGOs, residents' associations and trade unions have referred Bolloré S.A. to the Nanterre High Court to force the implementation of this action plan in Cameroon. These organizations hope, through unprecedented legal action, to force the Bolloré group to carry out its 2013 commitments, and move towards greater accountability of multinationals.
"No profit without responsibilities" chanted activists to the group's shareholders on Wednesday.
Collective On Ne Se Taira Not
TANY – Collective for the Defence of Malagasy Lands
- Link to the press release "Palm oil in Cameroon: the Bolloré group attractive to justice" (SHERPA 27/05/2019) – see also the press kit
- Link to the report "Land grabbing and palm oil in Sierra Leone" (FIAN Belgium 2019)
- Link to the report "Fight for life and land the rubber plantations of Socfin in Liberia and the responsibility of Swiss companies" (Pain for the next 2019)
- Link to the report "Unsustainable development, a counter-report on the Socfin case with regard to local communities" (ReAct 2019)
Since 2013, activists have regularly questioned the shareholders of the Bolloré group at general meetings about its agri-industrial activities and their impact on local communities and workers https://information.tv5monde.com/afrique/les-actionnaires-du-groupe-bollore-accueillis-avec-des-poissons-pourris-172685
What justice for the residents of SOCFIN plantations? Press release from several Belgian, Swiss, Luxembourg and French NGOs
In Sierra Leone, the conflict between SAC and local communities flared up again in January 2019, leading to the deaths of two people, the arbitrary arrest of 15 activists and the forced displacement of hundreds of residents. https://www.grain.org/en/article/6140-stop-land-grabbing-by-socfin-in-sierra-leone-stop-the-criminalisation-of-land-rights-defenders