Evidence uncovered by Survival International has revealed that rangers supported by WWF will get BONUSES for arresting people.
The bonus system gives the paramilitary units a clear incentive to arrest as many people as possible. Local people have given countless accounts of arbitrary arrests, and many other abuses, committed by rangers in the region.
The payments are detailed in the funding agreement signed between the EU and WWF for the creation of the hugely controversial Messok Dja protected area in the Congo.
It also details that bonuses will be paid to informants for information leading to an arrest.
WWF has pushed the Messok Dja project despite the strong opposition of the local Baka people, whose lands are being taken for it. Under international law, such projects must not proceed if the local people have not already given their proper consent to the proposal.
A Baka man told Survival: “To us this is like a war, and our forest is now closed off to us. The rangers kill people for money, that’s how they raise their salary.”
A major investigation into WWF by Buzzfeed last month revealed that it “funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.”
Buzzfeed also published internal documents showing WWF knew for years that the rangers had been accused of gross human rights abuses, but continued to fund them.
WWF is now under investigation in the US, UK and Germany.
Survival International Director Stephen Corry said today: “WWF’s system means that its rangers are paid more – by EU taxpayers – for every person they arrest. Imagine the outcry if this applied to law enforcement officers in the EU! Policing is not selling cars, and shouldn’t operate on a “commission” basis.
“Everyone who’s looked into it knows what the Baka and other local people have been telling us for years, that they’re constantly being arrested – and frequently beaten up, tortured and worse. Now we know there’s actually an incentive for the rangers to mistreat them.
“It goes without saying that the real poachers, in league with corrupt guards and officials, get away scot-free – as usual.”