Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Swiss retailer lodges complaint against Malaysian palm oil group

For immediate release


Migros requests a probe on IOI's breaches of law and sustainability standards in Borneo

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND. Following the disclosure of the Malaysian IOI group's irresponsible dealing with native land rights and its involvement in illegal and fraudulent rainforest clearances on Borneo, Switzerland's largest supermarket chain, Migros, has announced it will lodge a formal complaint against IOI, its principal palm oil supplier.

In a statement sent to the Bruno Manser Fund, Migros said it would submit a request for IOI's misconduct to be probed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). "This matter must be investigated. If the reproaches are seen to be true then, in Migros' opinion, sanctions must be imposed on the company in fault." Migros also announced that it would contact IOI directly and request for a full explanation. "If the explanation given is not satifactory, Migros will take the necessary action and draw the appropriate consequences."

Robert Keller, head of food production of Migros industries and a former executive board member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), said he was dismayed by IOI's breaches of law and sustainability standards as reported by the Bruno Manser Fund and Friends of the Earth International. IOI's conduct in the Malaysian state of Sarawak and the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan had been found to be strongly inconsistent with the group's claims of corporate responsibility.

While Migros said it did not support calls for a boyott of palm oil, the supermarket announced it would examine "all the possibilities for replacing palm oil if this brings advantages in social, ecological, or health terms." The Bruno Manser Fund had called on Migros to discontinue its business relationship with IOI and to strongly reduce its palm oil consumption.

Migros is a founder member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO has recently drawn a lot of criticism for its failure to effectively contribute to reduce tropical rainforest clearance in South-East Asia.

Picture: IOI jungle clearance for a new oil palm plantation on lands of the Kayan community of Long Teran Kanan in the Tinjar river region of Sarawak, Malaysia (November 2009). In March 2010, a Malaysian court declared the land leases used by IOI as "null and void" as they had been issued in an illegal and unconstitutional way.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Orang Asal Expert is a New Member of SUHAKAM

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) would like to congratulate Jannie Lasimbang upon her appointment as one of SUHAKAM’s Commissioners.

Jannie Lasimbang, a Kadazan from Sabah, is an advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Since the 1980s, she has been actively involved in environmental and human rights advocacy at the local, national as well as the international level.

She has been actively involved with PACOS Trust and Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) since its formation, and was the Secretary-General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Foundation (AIPP) from 2000-2008.

Currently she is the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), which is a subsidiary body directly under the United Nations Human Rights Council. She is also one of the focal point for the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity dealing with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

JOAS welcomes her appointment and is ready to work together with her and other commissioners to continue the work of former SUHAKAM vice chairperson, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun and former commissioners that have worked tirelessly to promote and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia.

We believe Jannie can make a difference in incorporating the UN human rights mechanisms within SUHAKAM’s framework, especially on issues that brings great concern to the human rights violations that is currently faced by the Orang Asal when their inherent rights to land, territories and resources has been denied.

Furthermore, new policies and guidelines for development that includes the Orang Asal in decision making processes must be upheld especially in the context of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) that is mandatory in all development projects that affects the Orang Asal.

Article 46(2) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) states that:

In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the present Declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law, in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedom of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society.

Hellan Empaing, JOAS Secretary and also the focal point for Women’s rights said, “We are proud that an indigenous woman is appointed for such an influential and important post, regardless of her gender and ethnicity. Indigenous women have always suffered triple discrimination (for being indigenous, for being poor and because she is a woman), and hopefully we can now have proper representation and a platform to voice out our important issues and grave situations”.

JOAS will continue to work closely with SUHAKAM in promoting human rights especially the rights of the Orang Asal.

For more information please contact:

JOAS Secretariat