FOE Rejected Investigation that Astra Agro Lestari Did

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Here is the official release that Editorials of Palmoilmagazine.com got from the official website of Walhi with the title:

Friends of the Earth Network Rejected Troubled Investigation on Environment and Human Rights Violation by Palm Oil Plantation Company in Indonesia, Astra Agro Lestari.

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JAKARTA/ WASHINGTONS, 25 May 2023 – Today the second biggest palm oil plantation company in Indonesia, Astra Agro Lestari (AAL) and Eco Nusantara plan to get kick-off meeting to investigate issues on environmental damages and human rights violation that AAL has done in Central Sulawesi and West Sulawesi Province, Indonesia though the cases were repeatedly revealed by environment group and people that got the impact. Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (Walhi) as Friends of the Earth Indonesia, rejected to attend kick-off meeting which was postponed later.

The meeting was scheduled after AALI published ‘the latest progress’ in its official website by claiming that the company is having communication with the United States (US) FOE and got support from Walhi in the investigation. US FOE consistently claimed that the investigation substance and process – that AAL one side – dictated and its consultant – are not available and having issues while Walhi did not agreed terminology or framing of the further investigation.

AAL and Eco Nusantara also mis-claimed to participate in the investigation kick-off meeting on 25 May 2023. In its position Walhi rejected the characteristic that ran in the investigation and re-emphasized that AAL should return the area back to the people that the company has plundered without the people’s agreement, deliver public statement, provide compensation for the loss of the areas and living source, do recover the environment based of case facts that raised for the past one year.

“We keep asking AAL to follow up every available evidence in the public to deliver recovery for those that loss their areas and living source because of the company’s operational,” Aulia Hakim, Chief of Advocacy Department, Walhi Central Sulawesi told.

“The people emphasized that they are not interested in one-party investigation for there would be no end,” Uli Arta, Forest and Plantation Campaign Manager, Walhi. AAL should commit to return the area in conflict to the farmers (smallholders) and people for the company plundered. This would be the first thing needed to end the conflicts by (some) companies in Sulawesi for the past decades.

AAL announced the latest investigation for the first time in March 2023 after nine consumer goods companies postponed to purchase palm oil source from AAL and its subsidiaries because there were lots of evidence of area plunders, polluting the people’s sources of water, did crime to regional figures, human rights violation, and environment. FOE network that protested AAL case never got consultation to develop reference frame in the investigation but it was responded by making announcement for the public.

Series of postponement from consumer goods companies because of March 2022 reports that delivered details of environment damages, human rights violation by AAL and its subsidiaries, and verification report in August 2022 by Eco Nusantara for having its own investigation on the documented accusation.

“If the company insisted to get further investigation, they have to focus on AAL that delivered evidences that they got approval from free prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the people to operate in their land,” Jeff Conant, Senior Manager International Forest Program, US FOE said. “We do not see the documentation that AAL did right assessment on environment and social or proves that its subsidiaries got permit according to the available regulations in Indonesia. The investigation should cover the roles of AAL in intimidation and crime for the people. The people that have rights in the front line and got the impacts for the operational of AAL, are tired of the useless investigation particularly when they had no chance to inform the process or approved the condition.”

Walhi and FOE network do reviews about investigation condition and would share lack of analysis and gap in this very short. (T7)

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