Guatemala: NGOs activists called on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to suspend membership of groups diminishing the anti-impunity commission

In a commentary published at Mongabay, Doug Hertzler from ActionAid USA and Jeff Conant from Friends of the Earth U.S. called on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to suspend membership of Guatemalan business groups such as the Association of Oil Palm Growers in Guatemala (GREPALMA) because of their public declarations undermining Guatemala’s anti-impunity commission and supporting President Jimmy Morales in expelling the Commission from the country. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited both RSPO & GREPALMA to respond; responses are available.



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6 February 2019

RSPO should suspend membership of groups undermining Guatemala’s anti-impunity commission

Author: Doug Hertzler and Jeff Conant (Mongabay)

In the coming weeks and months, a number of Guatemalan palm oil producers are expecting to receive memberships in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)… the journey toward sustainability must begin from a baseline of proven ethical intent…Indeed, evidence has come to light that the Guatemalan palm oil industry writ large has been explicitly engaged in an effort to undermine democracy in the country — a fact that the RSPO cannot ignore…In an effort to address the rampant criminality in the country, beginning in 2006, Guatemala’s Congress endorsed the presence of a U.N.-sponsored Commission Against Impunity, which worked with Guatemala’s attorney general to address political corruption and human rights violations against Guatemala’s majority indigenous peoples. But in late December 2018, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales defied his country’s Constitutional Court and signed an order expelling the U.N. commission. Among the strongest voices in support of this move was the Association of Oil Palm Growers in Guatemala (GREPALMA)…the Association of Oil Palm Growers publicly announced its support for the commission’s expulsion…The consideration by the RSPO of increasing its membership in Guatemala comes at a moment when the human rights crisis in the country is becoming increasingly visible internationally…

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Company response
6 March 2019

GREPALMA response

Author: Gremial de Palmicultores de Guatemala

In view of the accusations made against the oil palm sector of Guatemala through the opinion published by MONGABAY entitled "RSPO should suspend membership of groups undermining Guatemala's anti impunity commission (commentary)"…which states that we are hampering the work that the International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) together with the Public Prosecution (MP in Spanish) are doing, we very strongly state that we have never hindered the work done by these agencies against corruption and impunity in Guatemala; we have not sabotaged their work, and much less our democratic system, which this article accuses us of doing. Additionally, it should be noted that the efforts to accomplish sustainability by companies that are already certified, and by those that are in the process of certification are independent of the opinion of this association. The juncture that we are in merits a broader vision and analysis that take into account fundamental principles such as citizen responsibility to develop a true Rule of Law and a system of prompt, impartial and apolitical justice that is equal for all and respectful of Human Rights…

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Company response
12 March 2019

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil response

Author: Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) must work with both the most sustainable organizations in the world and also with organizations who are committed to change and continuous improvement. If we are to achieve our mission and change the oil palm industry, this must be our philosophy. Organisations like the RSPO, which are global in scope, are catalysts of change that provide reliable, market-based, extra-jurisdictional systems for stakeholders and communities to collaborate towards sustainable and socially responsible practices. The initial membership application process is open to third-party input and includes a 30-day public consultation period, in which civil society organizations, affected communities, and all others are invited to submit comments. Upon membership approval, additional mechanisms ensure transparency and that third party feedback is received. The RSPO Complaints System is accessible for anyone to submit a complaint, and is a transparent and impartial complaints process…Any formal complaints against an RSPO member should be lodged through the complaints procedure for further action.

Download the full document here