Thursday, 29 May 2014

Land grab for Palm Oil in Liberia

Copy of petition RainForest Rescue against land grab exploitation in Liberia

Since 2012 communities affected by EPO’s operations in District no.4, Grand Bassa County, Liberia have clearly stated their objections to your company’s expansion on their customary land. These communities have met more than 20 times with local government officials and legislators to express their objections and documentary evidence suggests that EPO has attended several of these meetings.

On March 5th in a meeting between the government and communities from District no.4, Grand Bassa County, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said EPO would not clear Jogbahn Clan land without community consent. The communities continue to say NO to your company’s expansion onto their land.

Despite this, your company is attempting to conduct Environmental Social Impact Assessments and High Conservation Value Assessments on their land. As these are requirements before land clearing begins, this implies you are not respecting the communities’ right to say no and are planning to clear their land. In any event, even implementing those preparatory activities with regard to Jogbahn Clan land would necessitate access to Jogbahn Clan land and the full participation of the community, which the community refuse.

Land clearance and other preparatory activities in these circumstances would be unlawful, as they do not respect communities’ right to give or withhold their Free Prior and Informed Consent, which is a requirement provided for under both national law and international law. Such activities would also place EPO in violation of its commitments under the RSPO principles & criteria.

Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a key principle of Liberia’s Community Rights Law (2009), which provides communities with a right to give or withhold their consent to activities planned on community land or which may impact on that land and the community. FPIC is also an established legal principle supported by numerous regional and international legal instruments to which Liberia is legally bound, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).

As a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), your company is also required to adhere to the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria, which include respect for the customary property rights of communities and FPIC.

Your company’s previous attempts to survey these communities’ customary land without their consent has led to violent conflict and accusations of severe human rights abuses. We urge you to listen to the Jogbahn Clan – NO means NO.

Say no to #PalmOil

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