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Thursday, December 31, 2020

RSPO probes forced labour allegation against Sime Darby Plantation

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has launched an immediate investigation into violations allegedly committed by Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) as cited by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The RSPO urged CBP to share any information that would allow it to properly investigate the matter and report transparently on its findings.

“We can confirm that an initial review of audit findings earlier this year did not generate any red flags against SDP. We rely on independent auditors to detect violations of this nature and to date, no non-conformances have been identified on any certified SDP plantations,” it said in a statement today.

According to a CBP statement, it issued a withhold release order (WRO) against SDP's palm oil and that its personnel at all US ports of entry will detain palm oil and palm oil-based products produced by SDP and its subsidiaries, joint ventures, and affiliated entities in Malaysia effective Dec 30.

The WRO was issued based on information that indicated the presence of forced labour in SDP's production process.

The RSPO expressed concern about comments made to the media by CBP officials regarding evidence of serious violations of the RSPO Principles and Criteria 2018.

RSPO CEO-designate Beverley Postma said the organisation has zero-tolerance for the practices described in the CBP press release, which is why the protection of human rights has been so deeply embedded in RSPO standards.

“We condemn the use of forced labour or any other form of modern slavery on any plantation, certified or uncertified,” she said.

Postma added that human rights violations remain one of the toughest challenges for agricultural and industrial sectors that operate in low-income communities.

Therefore, it is committed to scaling up its collaboration between governments, civil societies, and businesses to address the root cause of these issues while increasing monitoring and enforcement of its standards.

“The RSPO once again calls on the US government and CBP to work with all relevant partners to conduct a full risk assessment of the impact any sanctions will have on these vulnerable populations (the poor, including migrant workers and their families).

“We also urge them to work jointly with the Malaysian government towards achieving a positive outcome that allows both countries to meet their commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Postma said.

Bernama

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