Indonesia: NGOs link Wilmar Intl. with human rights abuses in West Sumatra, RSPO allegedly fails to take action

An interim report alleges that communities in West Sumatra were negatively affected by Wilmar's oil palm operations and its suppliers. Communities report loss of access and control over their customary lands which were taken over by Wilmar International's subsidiaries without their consent.

The interim report also claims that RSPO has failed to address said complaints of communities. More specifically, it claims that despite the formal complaints filed by the communities with the RSPO about the take-over of their lands by Wilmar subsidiary and about the intense intimidation and criminalization they are suffering from, the RSPO has yet to take an action.

Finally, the interim report alleges that despite the promise of Wilmar International and the RSPO to conduct a joint risk assessment, no assessment has taken place.

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited Wilmar International and the RSPO to respond to the allegations. The interim report and the responses of Wilmar International and the RSPO are linked below.

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

14 November 2019

Indonesia: NGOs urge Wilmar Intl. and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to conduct assessment on human rights violations in West Sumatra

Author: Nagari Institute, Masyarakat Kehutanan Lestari and Forest Peoples Programme

"PRESS RELEASE: Report Shows Widespread Human Rights violations in Wilmar's Palm oil operations in West Sumatra", 4 Nov 2019

Human Rights violations by one of the world's biggest palm oil suppliers, Wilmar International, and its subsidiaries and suppliers in West Sumatra have been revealed in a new report...

Two Indonesian NGOs...released a report...summarising complaints made by fifty communities negatively affected by Wilmar's oil palm operations and its suppliers. All communities reported loss of access and control of their customary lands which were taken over by the companies without their consent. Many communities also reported suffering intimidation and criminalisation after raising concerns and complaints with the companies affecting them.

"Wilmar International and the [Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil] RSPO have failed to address these systemic problems. A year ago they promised to conduct a joint risk assessment but despite regularly urging them to turn commitment into action, no assessment has taken place," said Zulkifli, director of the Nagari Institute...

Patrick Anderson from Forest Peoples Programme...said "we urge the RSPO and Wilmar International to honour their commitment made at the 2018 RSPO [Roundtable] RT in Kota Kinabalu to conduct an assessment into these problems and to work together to address the community reports that together indicate systemic human rights abuses."


Read the full post here

Company response
14 November 2019

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil's response

Author: Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

In the 2017 Complaints and Appeals Procedure we encourage organisations to settle disputes with any aggrieved parties using their own internal grievance mechanisms. In this situation, it is our understanding that this is the case and that Wilmar are indeed pursuing this course of action. We will continue to monitor the situation and we are prepared to assist all parties concerned if necessary.

Download the full document here

Company response
14 November 2019

Wilmar International's response

Author: Wilmar International

...Wilmar commissioned Earthworm Foundation (EF) in September 2018 to conduct a thorough evaluation of issues raised against Wilmar's internal systems on social grievance and resolution at three of its subsidiaries... Wilmar also engaged EF to undertake an investigation into the alleged criminalisation case of a customary leader who was in disagreement with PMJ...

Wilmar acknowledges that there are outstanding issues within the region and internally, there are areas for improvement, based on initial findings by EF. We have begun working on implementing the recommendations by EF to address these gaps whilst continuing engagement with the affected communities and to resolve the related conflicts in Pasaman Barat...

In November 2018, Wilmar agreed with Forest Peoples Program (FPP) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Investigation Monitoring Unit (IMU) to participate in a desktop - based risk assessment related to Wilmar in Pasaman Barat. However, in February 2019, Wilmar voluntarily offered to share summarised findings with FPP and RSPO from the investigation that EF had conducted, which identified multiple specific community-related issues as well as recommendations to address these concerns and move forward to resolutions.

The shared findings were comprehensive and therefore, rendering the earlier agreed-upon exercise redundant. This position was communicated to both FPP and the RSPO when the report was shared in March 2019. Subsequently, we understand that the RSPO decided not to proceed with the earlier agreed-upon assessment as Wilmar was already pursuing a process for resolution. The assertion from the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) on 4 November 2019, with regards to Wilmar’s refusal to cooperate in the previously planned RSPO IMU assessment is therefore misleading...

Download the full document here