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22 Sep 2019

Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay

Indonesia: Korindo sends cease-and-desist letter vs. FSC's report on its operations; company asserts intent to clarify certain points in report

"Palm oil giant Korindo silences critical report with cease-and-desist letter," 19 September 2019

The Forest Stewardship Council...has delayed the publication of its findings into a palm oil company’s operations in Indonesia, following a cease-and-desist letter.

The FSC found earlier this year that subsidiaries of Korindo, an Indonesian-South Korean joint venture that’s an FSC associate, had violated the terms of that association by clearing valuable tracts of rainforest in the Papua region. It also found that the companies failed to properly consult local communities about plans to convert their land into oil palm plantations.

The ...findings of the two-year investigation...had been set for publication on Sept. 5. However, Korindo, ...sent a letter to the FSC ordering it not to publish further information specific to the findings...

As a result, the FSC has decided to postpone the release of the reports indefinitely, according to FSC Indonesia country manager Hartono Prabowo.

“As a standard legal precautionary measure derived from cease-and-desist orders, FSC has postponed publication of further information concerning the Korindo PfA [policy for association] to allow time for our legal team to analyze in full detail the specific requirements included in the document,” he told Mongabay. Hartono added that the FSC’s international secretariat was currently discussing the matter with the organization’s board of directors.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth, a campaign group that has highlighted Korindo’s practices in Papua. In response to the latest development, Mighty Earth lambasted Korindo for sending the cease-and-desist letter to the FSC.

Anselmus Amo, a pastor with the Papuan indigenous rights organization SKP-KAMe Merauke, which has been advocating for some of the communities affected by Korindo’s operations, said he was surprised about the letter to the FSC. He said the company had previously shown a willingness to remedy its mistakes.

Luwy Leunufna, Korindo’s senior manager for resources management, denied that the company was threatening litigation against the FCS if it released the reports.

Luwy said the company had only asked the FSC to hold off on publishing the reports so that the company could clarify some points, without specifying what those points were.


Note from the Resource Centre: It is useful to read a related report on this item:

Indonesia: Forest Stewardship Council threatens to expel Korindo if it fails to secure remedy for rainforest damage, 29 July 2019