Colombia: NGOs allege palm company Poligrow has contributed to forced displacement & land grabbing; opponents have received death threats

A joint investigation project by the Colombian NGO Comisión Inter Eclesial de Justicia y Paz, and the US-based NGO Environmental Investigation Agency, allege serious abuses on land rights and violence related to an oil palm investment by Poligrow. In addition, there have been constant death threats to indigenous peoples and local leaders opposing the palm plantation. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Poligrow to respond; the company declined to send a statement saying that they cannot issue a public statement pending resolution of a lawsuit against the authors of the allegations.

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Company non-response
7 September 2015

Poligrow did not respond

Author: Poligrow

Article
7 September 2015

“Colombian Land Activist Threatened by Paramilitaries Linked to Oil Palm Company Poligrow”

Author: Marketwatch.com

…Colombian environmental and land activist William Aljure was threatened by paramilitary leaders and followed by two unidentified men in Villavicencio, Colombia in the region of Meta. According to Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz…local paramilitary leader Edgar Pérez (whose alias is "Tomate") described Mr. Aljure as a "threat to the business" of oil palm in Colombia and called for his assassination. Mr. Aljure recently completed an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. to speak out about the forced displacement and threats from paramilitary groups with links to oil palm company, Poligrow Colombia Ltd., against local farmers and indigenous communities in the area around Mapiripán, in Colombia's plains (llano) region…"Land rights are at the heart of the violent conflict which Colombia has suffered for decades," said Rose Davis EIA Program Coordinator. "Without meaningful protection of land rights activists and local communities, Colombia cannot be considered a safe place to develop large scale agricultural projects, as we see in the case of Poligrow and Mapiripán...Poligrow Colombia Ltd. has taken control of and planted oil palm across thousands of hectares in the Mapiripán area. The company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). According to Mr. Aljure, the CEO of Poligrow Carlos Vigna Taglianti has personally intimidated local landholders, traveling to the region and demanding that land be signed over to him.

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Article
7 September 2015

“Oil Palm Expansion and Land Accumulation in Mapiripán, Meta Colombia”

Author: Washington Office on Latin America, WOLA

On July 28, WOLA hosted Oil Palm Expansion and Land Accumulation, a discussion of the impact of oil palm expansion and human rights in rural Colombia. A video of the event, featuring commentary from Mr. Abilio Peña of Justicia y Paz, can be viewed [below].  During the last two decades, Justicia y Paz (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace) has engaged in research, advocacy, and legal casework, regarding oil palm expansion and related forced displacement, environmental damage, and human rights violations in Colombia. Justicia y Paz is currently accompanying communities in the central Colombian town of Mapiripán that have been negatively affected by oil palm expansion in the region, and carrying out research on the company Poligrow Colombia Ltda… 

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