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5 Jul 2021

Sheryl Lee Tian Tong, Mongabay

Malaysia: Timber Certification Council to hear complaints against company operating in Indigenous territory; incl. co. comments

'Malaysian council opens hearing into claims of timber certification flaws', 17 June 2021

Penan and Kenyah Indigenous communities in Malaysian Borneo will be given a chance to formally air their complaints against a timber company operating in their traditional territory, following the start of a dispute resolution case between the two sides. The Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) launched the process last month after the communities filed complaints over alleged flaws in the certification of logging concessions owned by the company. On May 31, the MTCC informed community representatives that their complaints had been taken up by its independently appointed committee of experts, who will deliberate on the certification process of two forest management units in Sarawak state owned by timber giant Samling Group... While Gerenai was certified under MTCC’s flagship Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) last year and Ravenscourt in 2018, Indigenous groups in the area say the certification procedures were flawed. They allege that Samling withheld key documents about the process, did not obtain free, prior and informed consent from affected communities, and failed to consider how the Indigenous people use the land for their livelihoods. Samling says it has “adhered to all the requirements set by the MTCC with regards to the certification process.” “We welcome the opening of the dispute resolution case as a means to protect the Group’s reputation and integrity,” the company said in a statement... In a complaint letter addressed to the MTCC dated May 11, the Gerenai Community Rights Action Committee (GCRAC), which represents contesting Indigenous groups affected by the Gerenai FMU, said that prior to the certification being awarded, the communities had “raised major issues with the implementation of the [MTCS], especially about the lack of consultation and free, prior and informed consent.” ... Among other issues, the GCRAC said that neither social impact assessment (SIA) nor environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports had been made available to the local communities despite multiple requests... Samling says it had not received “any formal request” to share either the EIA or SIA reports. “To allege that Samling has refused to release these reports is totally untrue,” the company wrote in a May 20 media release...

Part of the following timelines

Malaysia: Timber company Samling accused of flawed environmental certification & legal threats against Borneans forest defenders; incl. co. response

Malaysia: Timber company Samling files defamation suit against Indigenous civil society group, rights organisations claim it's a SLAPP; co. responds