World Rainforest Movement

Indonesia: RSPO fails to take action against a company bulldozing ancestral forests and perpetrating human rights abuses

The certifying body Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has failed to act against a company looking for RSPO’s seal which has bulldozed farmland and forests belonging to the indigenous community of Muara Tae, assisted by the intimidation of armed police brought in to protect the company.

PT Borneo Surya Mining Jaya (PT Borneo), a subsidiary of First Resources Ltd, falsely claimed that it had obtained the consent of local communities for an oil palm plantation on their land in Kutai Barat, East Kalimantan and had conducted Social and Environmental Impact Assessments in line with its obligations as an RSPO member. However, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) submitted a comprehensive complaint to the RSPO on October 17 this year, outlining First Resources’ breaches of the body’s Principles and Criteria and New Planting Procedure.

According to its own guidelines, the RSPO should have determined whether the complaint was legitimate within two weeks of its submission to itsGrievance Panel. Accepting the complaint as legitimate would have obligated First Resources to cease operating in Muara Tae until the dispute was resolved. However, the RSPO secretariat has to date not done so and has repeatedly failed to inform EIA of the deadline for its decision, three weeks after receiving the complaint.

The community has repeatedly rejected the proposed plantation, a view which has been entirely ignored.Indeed, while offering the prospect of dialogue to Masrani, the village head, in Singapore, First Resources was simultaneously preparing to bulldoze his father’s land (see a reference to the film Manufacturing Consent in the Recommended section below).

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