8 April, 2015, Golden Agri-Resources, which owns Indonesia’s largest palm oil conglomerate operating under the brand name Sinar Mas, is still in violation of RSPO standards, according to Forest Peoples Programme. FPP recently affirmed this in a follow up letter and detailed submission to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, following a field review of the situation in one of GAR’s subsidiaries, PT Kartika Prima Cipta, carried out in February along with local partner LinkAR-Borneo.
Among the shortcoming indentified by FPP and LinkAR-Borneo is that participatory mapping of community lands, which The Forest Trust is undertaking for GAR, remains very incomplete. There are still weaknesses in the revised HCV assessment, which was compiled in September 2014 but which should have been completed eight years ago. Owing to systemic shortcomings in GAR’s application of RSPO-required procedures for land acquisition, some communities were persuaded to give up their lands without understanding the costs and benefits or the legal implications of the agreements they entered into. Despite admitting shortcomings and ‘misperceptions’, GAR is refusing to renegotiate the 5,000 hectares of lands taken without due process and without communities’ ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’.
Moreover, only about half of the promised area of smallholdings has yet been planted and while GAR has rhetorically committed to planting the remaining area, it says lands for such cannot be allocated from the core estate nor is any additional land available in the area set aside for smallholders.
FPP has called on the RSPO Complaints Panel to make further determinations on GAR’s performance and to penalise the company for violations. FPP is also demanding that sanctions be imposed on the company which approved GAR’s defective submissions to RSPO’s New Plantings Procedure, which GAR has now admitted were defective and which GAR has now withdrawn.
Some important gains have however been made. Under pressure from the local communities and NGOs, PT Kartika Prima Cipta has now excluded most of the lands of those communities, which have been refusing oil palm, from the area of its final land use permit. GAR says it will now upgrade its HCV assessments, will roll out revised procedures for land acquisition and conflict resolution and complete its mapping of community lands. It has also frozen all land clearance in its 18 subsidiaries and agreed to resubmit notifications to the New Plantings Procedure before any further land clearance is undertaken.
Forest People Programme and TUK Complaint
Golden Agri-Resources Ltd’s subsidiary PT Kartika Prima Cipta is alleged to have the breached the RSPO Principles and Criteria on :
i.Free Prior Informed Consent
- Failure to do a proper HCV assessment prior to development.
iii.non-compliance with national laws of Indonesia.
Box D complaint legitimate
GAR”s subsidiary PT Kartika Prima Cipta (KPC) is alleged to have acquired land from local Dayak and Malay communities without Free Prior Informed Consent.
That PT KPC has not done a HCV study prior to developing the land.
GAR had been taking over community lands without first doing land tenure studies, without participatory mapping and without providing adequate information to the communities about the implications of land surrenders.
PT KPC has been going about setting aside land for HCV areas has resulted in a reduction in the land holding of the communities.Eighteen of GAR subsidiaries are operating without the appropriate Hak Guna Usaha in breach of the legal requirements to operate an oil palm plantation in Indonesia.
Points raised :
- PT KPC is in persistent violation of the RSPO P&C pertaining HCV assessment, the recognition of customary land right and free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). lack of FPIC of the local Dayak and Malay people in the process of acquiring land.
- Land take over was done without land tenure study and participatory mapping.
- LHCV assessments were done late and final consultation was on May 2014.
- Dissatisfaction among smallholders and resentment because of reduced plot size after being set aside for HCV rather than being included in the plasma scheme (20%).
- Set aside land as HCS area that made no provision for customary land uses and tenure and local people’s livelihood.
- GAR as the parent company of all 18 subsidiaries listed, is acting in violation of the New Planting Procedure (NPP) by submitting information which it knows is false. No HGU in sixteen (16) of the eighteen (18) concessions where NPP was submitted.
- The assessors who endorsed GAR’s HCV assessment, ESIAs and social engagement actions, are in violation of their responsibility to provide impartial assessment of the company’s compliance with RSPO Principles & Criteria.
GAR has requested to withdraw all its New Planting Procedure submissions but the Secretariat has decided that they shall remain on the RSPO website pending the resolution of the complaint.
8 November 2014
RSPO had conference call meeting with GAR.
9 December 2014
RSPO asked GAR :
-To provide Action Plan with timeline that addresses the issues raised in the FPP complaint by 16 December 2014. The deadline had been revised into 18 December 2014.
-To advice RSPO the date that land preparation has been halted in all PTs with new planting.
13 January 2015
RSPO Secretariat met GAR and encouraged them to seek resolutions via bilateral negotiations. They have agreed on the course of action and will update RSPO by early February 2015.