The harm a palm oil plantation in western Kalimantan, Indonesia, is causing to the surrounding communities and the environment demonstrates the government’s failure to enforce its own policies and laws, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. There has been no improvement in government protection of residents and the land, and in fact new laws could facilitate the abuses.
The 71-page report, “‘Why Our Land?’: Oil Palm Expansion in Indonesia Risks Peatlands and Livelihoods,” examines the conduct of PT Sintang Raya, a subsidiary of South Korean Deasang Corporation, in three tidal villages in West Kalimantan province. Human Rights Watch found that the company has established and expanded its plantations in peatlands, which help to address climate change, without genuine consultation with local residents and without adequate compensation for loss of their farmland or livelihoods. Police have harassed, intimidated, and prosecuted villagers who have resisted or protested.
“Indonesian authorities are permitting palm oil companies to destroy peatlands and cause other environmental harm with scant regard for the rights of local communities or the environmental consequences,” said Juliana Nnoko-Mewanu, senior researcher on women and land at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The Indonesian government should ensure that companies comply with laws to protect residents' land rights, as well as environmental laws, and do their part to address the climate crisis.”