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Nigeria: NGOs allege human rights abuses by Wilmar International; company denies claims

Nigeria Wilmar protest

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria allege that Wilmar International’s operations continue to impact negatively on the human rights of local communities, contrary to the company’s “no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation policy” adopted in 2013. Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited Wilmar International to respond to these claims; the company’s response and related media items are provided below.

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8 July 2015

Nigeria: NGO report alleges land grabs by Wilmar International

Author: Friends of the Earth US/Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria

'Exploitation and empty promises: Wilmar’s Nigerian land grab', 8 Jul 2015:…Since 2010, Wilmar International has acquired thirty-thousand of hectares of land for palm oil plantations in...Nigeria…and the company plans to expand [further]…Wilmar’s…land acquisitions…process has generated concern, conflict, and resistance. This report…finds that Wilmar’s operations…have…failed to meet the company’s obligations to gain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of communities…bypass best practices in community consultation…failed to produce adequate Environmental and Social Impact Assessments…failed to live up to promises of infrastructure development and benefit sharing…destroyed areas of High Conservation Value, including food-producing areas and water sources essential to local communities...[and] le[d]…to deforestation…This report therefore recommends th[at]…Wilmar…halt its…expansion plans…immediately…[and]…the Nigerian government…[should] prevent the dispossession of rural communities…[F]inanciers of…Wilmar…should approach palm oil…as a high-risk investment requiring…enhanced due diligence [and]…the international community should support the…call…for a binding treaty to prevent and redress human rights violations arising from the operations of transnational corporations…

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Company response
22 June 2015

Wilmar International Response to Nigeria palm oil land grab allegations

Author: Wilmar International

Wilmar expects its suppliers to comply with its No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation Policy (“Policy”), and its own operations are no exception.  It is being implemented across all operations including subsidiaries and joint ventures, in partnership with The Forest Trust (TFT). A testament to our continuous efforts in Nigeria and Uganda can be found in a write-up from TFT explaining the work Wilmar, together with TFT, have done - and are continuing to do - to ensure that our practices in those two countries comply with our Policy...The Group therefore rejects the allegations in yet again another report “Deforestation, exploitation, hypocrisy: no end to Wilmar's palm oil land grabs” by Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the Ecologist, particularly the case of Nigeria, in which many of the allegations were rehashed and have been dismissed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Complaints Panel. We welcome issues to be raised by concerned stakeholders but we would appreciate that they are based on facts and supported by evidence.  For this reason, Wilmar is obliged to clarify many of the misleading points in the report... [Wilmar also provided this water analysis from a laboratory in Nigeria as part of its response.]

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6 June 2015

Community letter responding to NGOs claims of human rights violations by Wilmar International

Author: IBIAE Landlord Communities Committee

"Response from community on FOE allegations"

The attention of the Landlord Communities of Ibiae Oil Palm Estate has been drawn to a write-up by a non-governmental organization called “FRIENDS OF THE EARTH EUROPE”. The write-up has as its subject: Deforestation, Exploitation, Hypocrisy: No end to Wilmar’s Palm Oil land grabs in Africa…It is disheartening that allegations of this magnitude will be made on Wilmar’s operation…based only on ureliable and unconfirmed sources…We think that an NGO of the status of Friends of the Earth should know that every…report…should contain “balanced information and not gleaned from one source…

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27 May 2015

Nigeria: 'No end to Wilmar's palm oil land grabs', say NGOs

Author: Anne van Schaik & Godwin Ojo, Ecologist

'Deforestation, exploitation, hypocrisy: no end to Wilmar's palm oil land grabs', 27 May 2015: In December 2013 Wilmar adopted a"no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation policy" to address its well-documented environmental and human rights failings…Wilmar gave itself, its subsidiaries, and its third party suppliers two years to...deal…with the land-grabbing cases, human rights abuses, forest destruction and climate impacts that have dogged its operations…[However] Friends of the Earth…continues to see misconduct by Wilmar and its subsidiaries...A…delegation organised by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria visited affected communities in May 2015…In…Betem, the water supply was severely damaged and polluted by PZ Wilmar's operations…a major source of illness in the community…[In] Idoma, Chief Steven Omari complained: "As a consequence of the Wilmar project, our forest has been seriously degraded. Our timber has been destroyed and they have yet to compensate us. People who were farming in that area lost their land and they have yet to be compensated."…

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12 July 2014

IBIAE water analysis results

Author: GOI Technologies (Nigeria)

[Wilmar sent this document with the results of water analysis as part of its response; the text of the response from Wilmar International is here]

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