The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's private sector arm, has just issued a strongly worded report which formally closes its efforts to mediate the resolution of land disputes between affected communities and the oil palm company PT Asiatic Persada (PT AP) in Jambi Province in Indonesia.
Nearly 150 homes were reportedly destroyed in the latest incident in a long-standing conflict between indigenous Batin Sembilan residents and former Wilmar unit PT Asiatic Persada.
The International Finance Corporation Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (IFC CAO) has formally announced its withdrawal from the case of PT Asiatic Persada, following the sale of the concession by Wilmar in April 2013, and the new management’s decision to continue mediation through a government team instead. This is despite the fact that the affected Batin Sembilan communities and complaint signatory NGOs have repeatedly called on the IFC CAO to continue its role as mediator and to encourage the company to pursue this avenue towards conflict resolution.
Nurman Nuri, Leader of the Suku Anak Dalam group 113 of Pinang Tinggi in the Indonesian province of Jambi, stated in a press conference held on 3 October 2013 at the office of Indonesian NGO CAPPA: "We demand that the Governor of Jambi Province immediately revokes the HGU (Business Use Permit) of PT Asiatic Persada, as since its establishment in the 1980s no benefits at all have been derived by the indigenous Suku Anak Dalam living in this territory, only misery."
Oil palm giant and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) member, Wilmar, has agreed the sale of its oil palm concession PT Asiatic Persada, without prior consultation or respect for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous Batin Sembilan communities already engaged in a land conflict mediation process.
In 2011, the World Bank Group (WBG) adopted a Framework and Strategy for investment in the palm oil sector. The new approach was adopted on the instructions of former World Bank President Robert Zoellick, after a damning audit by International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) semi-independent Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) had shown that IFC staff were financing the palm oil giant, Wilmar, without due diligence and contrary to the IFC’s Performance Standards. Wilmar is the world’s largest palm oil trader, supplying no less than 45% of globally traded palm oil. The audit, carried out in response to a series of detailed complaints from Forest Peoples Programme and partners, vindicated many of our concerns that Wilmar was expanding its operations in Indonesia in violation of legal requirements, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards and IFC norms and procedures. Almost immediately after the audit was triggered, IFC divested itself of its numerous other palm oil investments in Southeast Asia.
Click here to read the full article from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (in Norwegian only), which features an interview with FPP's Sophie Chao.
EMBARGOED for 8 am Malaysia 21 November 2011
A new report released today exposes how local Indonesian police (BRIMOB) in Jambi, working with plantation staff, systematically evicted people from three settlements, firing guns to scare them off and then using heavy machinery to destroy their dwellings and bulldoze concrete floors into the nearby creeks. The operations were carried out over a week in mid-August this year and have already sparked an international controversy. Andiko, Executive Director of the Indonesian community rights NGO, HuMa said:
“Forced evictions at gun point and the destruction of the homes of men, women and children without warning or a court order constitute serious abuses of human rights and are contrary to police norms. The company must now make reparations but individual perpetrators should also be investigated and punished in accordance with the law.”
In response to an appeal by a global coalition of NGOs, IFC / World Bank President Robert Zoellick has agreed to suspend IFC funding of the oil palm sector pending the development of a revised strategy for dealing with the troubled sector.
An internal IFC report (by its Compliance Advisor Ombudsman) has conceded that by providing loans to the Wilmar palm oil trading group, the IFC has allowed commercial interests to override its social and environmental standards.FPP press release