Lawyer, Forest Peoples Programme, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Lassana Koné is a lawyer working for Forest Peoples Programme, an international NGO working to protect the rights of those who live in the world’s forests. ‘We want to support forest-dependent communities in the protection of their natural resources and put human rights issues at the heart of forest debates’.
Lassana’s efforts are focused currently on pushing for policy change regarding land reform and forest governance, seeking to secure community land titles. ‘It’s a key moment because the Government is in the process of reforming the land tenure act. It is vital that the human rights of communities be enshrined in this process. It gives us an opportunity to ensure that the free prior and informed manner in which communities ought to be consulted according to international law, is finally ensured by national law’. Lassana works with a number of local communities in advocating for such policies and, in doing so, shines a light on the abuses taking place around communal land and natural resources. He explains that for the communities raising their voice can be dangerous.
‘They face a range of opponents to their demands, and these opponents can become threatening. For example, many communities are being evicted for conservation projects and can be threatened by national park guards. Others find themselves face to face with powerful proponents of extractive industries. In both cases, foreign companies are usually working together with the government’.
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