Sustainability Without Human Rights Respect And Victims Justice Is Meaningless

Joint Press Statement

Sustainability Without Human Rights Respect And Victims Justice Is Meaningless

Bangkok, 8 November 2016 – RSPO established in 2004 aims at encouraging the growth and usage of sustainable palm oil products through the global standards which are credible, and involve the extended stakeholders. To do so, since 2005 RSPO has adopted the Principle and Criteria (P&C). However, commencing its 14th years, RSPO has yet had any significant advancement of the sustainable palm oil which has been the jargon of such initiative. RT14 of RSPO held on November 7-10, 2016 at Bangkok, Thailand.

Pursuant to the mandate of establishment and operational standard for the RSPO members, the cases filed through RSPO mechanism and cases involved the RSPO members should be able to be speedy and effectively settled. However, until these recent times, the cases filed to be settled using RSPO complaint mechanism has yet fulfilled the justice for the victims and the reparation for their rights. This will certainly eliminate RSPO credibility.

The cases already filed to be settled using RSPO mechanism which have yet settled until these current times, and other cases involving RSPO members can be comprised as follows.

  1. PT. Mitra Austral Sejahtera (Sime Darby Plantation) commenced Sanggau region of West Kalimantan in 2006 by conducting consultation with the community to open the land for palm oil plantation. The community accepted the agreement by these following conditions (1) the areas used for palm oil plantation can be cultivated through the lend-and-use system for 25 years; (2) if the company will extend the land use, renegotiation should be conducted; and (3) the public facilities such as hospital, sport facility, school building and electricity for the community must be built. However, the agreement has yet been implemented until today.
  2. PT. Wiramas Permai (Kencana Agri Group) in Luwuk, Central Sulawesi whose 30% of its share is owned by Wilmar Group has conducted socialization to the community to cultivate the palm oil plantation, including building the plantation and recruiting the community as their labors. However, it turns out the promised land was never realized, and even the company grabbed the certified land of community. Even though being recruited as labors, their wages are under the regional minimum wage. Moreover, majority of the workers in PT Wiramas Permai are women, but the company disregards their rights to reproduction particularly the menstruation and maternity leave. Concerning the violation of law committed by the company, community has reported the said problem to the local government which gives no response. In this regard, RSPO must evaluate PT Wiramas Permai for having violated the law and human rights;
  3. PT. Bangun Nusa Mandiri, the subsidiary of Sinar Mas Group which has violated the rights of indigenous people of Dayak in Silat Hulu, Ketapang, West Kalimantan. The case began when the company commenced the area without the permission of community and society figure in 2008. When opening the plantation area, the company evicted the location of ancestor graveyard, community farm, and the settlement of Silat Hulu community around 600 hectares. To ensure the company be accountable for the violation, pursuant to the tradition of Dayak community, they filed the lawsuit against Sinar Mas Group, which has been done by company in November 2009. However, the company has just criminalized the community, further known as Andi-Japin case. Moreover, Sinar Mas Group still keeps on evicting while the lands they controlled have yet been returned to the community. In this regard, Silat Hulu community urged the company to: (1) return the 664 hectares of communal land, which has been planted by the company, to the community; (2) command the company to leave the communal land of Silat Hulu community; and (3) provide reparation to the communal land grabbed by the company;
  4. PT. Sandabi Indah Lestari in Bengkulu which has been the supplier of Wilmar and Sinar Mas Group has violated the law and human rights to the community in their operational area through intimidation. The intimidation was perpetrated by the company when the community reported the problem through RSPO mechanism. Other than that, the company has taken over the land of transmigrants, and criminalized the community against them. Another case in Bengkulu is the case of PT Agri Andalas which has yet provided the land to the community as promised. The community has reported this to the local government which has yet responded. In this context, it deserves to be reported concerning on the Principle and Criteria of sustainable palm oil production if the produced CPO by the suppliers have violated the law and human rights; .
  5. PT. Nabire Baru operated in the forest area of Yaur subdistrict, Nabire district, Papua is the subsidiary of Goodhope Asia Group. PT. Nabire Baru Co has violated the communal land of indigenous people of Yerisiam Gua for cultivating their land without permission. PT Nabire Baru has also destructed the ecology system in Nabire for causing deforestation, and the elimination of food and earnings of the Yerisiam Gua community. Moreover, PT. Nabire Baru has cooperated with Brimob (Mobile Brigade) to secure the company operational area. On behalf of company, Brimob committed violence against the community. Yerisiam Gua community has voiced out their protests and disagreement concerning the human rights violations, however, none has been seriously responded by both the company or local government. Through these findings, the community strongly urges RSPO to: (1) investigate PT Nabire Baru comprehensively and deeply on the violation of Principle and Criteria of sustainable palm oil products; (2) demand PT. Nabire Baru to give compensation to Yerisiam Gua community; (3) command PT. Nabire Baru to terminate their whole activities; and (4) terminate and withdraw the membership of Goodhope Asia Group from RSPO;
  6. The cases of RSPO members operating in Central Kalimantan such as Sinar Mas, Wilmar Grup and Bumitama Gunanjaya Agro (BGA). The violation commited by RSPO members can be comprised in 2 cases involving the company owned by BGA, namely PT. ASMR and Bumitama Gunanjaya Agro. PT. ASMR burnt the forest and lands in 2015 which caused the smog disaster in Indonesia. Similarly, Bumitama Guna Jawa has also fired the forest. Furthermore, the company has manipulated through criminalization of the community assisted by police and military. Other than that, there are cases involving 5 of 7 companies owned by Wilmar Group. The case is related to the forest fire committed by PT. KSI and PT. Rimba Harapan Sakti in 2015. Meanwhile, PT. KKPS, Mentaya has conflict against the community. Though all cases have been filed and included in RSPO mechanism, none has been seriously responded, namely, the case of company owned by Sinar Mas which has been filed since 2015. Evaluating RSPO slow response, it emphasizes that RSPO has contributed to the conflict and forest destruction in Indonesia.

The abovementioned cases have empirically showed that complaint mechanism developed by RSPO has failed to settle the cases effectively. Moreover, RSPO has produced injustice in that the remedy of the victims has been negated. Those cases have also showed that in executing their operations, RSPO members still violated the principle and criteria which should be obeyed by all members of RSPO to achieve the sustainable palm oil production.

Reflecting from the complaints filed using RSPO mechanism be it through DSF and grievance panel which have yet overcome the problem at the bottom level, there are several cases which have yet been submitted to RSPO. Other than failure to overcome the problem, the communication conducted without resulting in a fair decision, and termination of ongoing complaints process though supported by strong evidence have become other reasons.

In general, the members of RSPO only placed the principle and criteria (P&C) as a technical issue, in which the environmental and social matters have only become the scheme of sustainable market certification which is questionable while the low management process and unsustainable market demand are the core. RSPO is the mechanism of voluntary market certification hidden in “green label” which in fact it blinds over the negative impact concerning the land, forest and community rights.

In human rights context, RSPO mechanism and its members’ contribution in human rights violations have showed their disobedience toward the Guideline Principles on Business and Human Rights which has been the joint commitment of international community. The 2nd pillar of Guideline Principles on Business and Human Rights has provided corridor that every company must respect to human rights by not violating human rights internationally acknowledged through avoiding, reducing or preventing the negative impacts of the company operations. RSPO should be able to encourage its members to formulate a policy commitment to respect to human rights and develop the instrument of human rights due diligence to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations. Besides, the 3rd pillar of Guideline Principles on Business and Human Rights affirmed the needs to broaden the access for the victims to get the effective remedy.

In this regard, RSPO must encourage its members to immediately settle each case filed using RSPO mechanism as part of effort to respect human rights, including responding the victims to receive remedy. We also urge RSPO to implement the commitment of its members to obey the principle and criteria of sustainable palm oil production due to human rights respect.

ELSAM – TuK Indonesia – WALHI Sulawesi Tengah – WALHI Bengkulu – WALHI Kalimantan Tengah – WALHI Jambi – Yayasan PUSAKA – SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke – Gemawan – Institut Dayakologi

Contact persons:
1. Andi Muttaqien / [email protected]
Insitute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)
2. Edi Sutrisno/[email protected]
Transformasi untuk Keadilan Indonesia
3. Budi Siluet / [email protected]
Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia – Sulawesi Tengah
4. Beni Ardiansyah / [email protected]
Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia – Bengkulu
5. Arie Rompas / [email protected]
Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia – Kalimantan Tengah
6. Musri Nauli / [email protected]
Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia – Jambi
7. Andre Barahamin / [email protected]
Yayasan Pusaka
8. Anselmus Amo / [email protected]
SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke
9. Hermawansyah / [email protected]
10. Krissusandi Gunu’i / [email protected]
Institut Dayakologi