Forest Peoples Programme | 7 December 2022
Indigenous, human rights and environmental organisations call on Louis Dreyfus Company to remedy its role in Amazon deforestation and human rights violations linked to Peruvian palm oil
This week, Peruvian and international organisations filed a complaint before the OECD in the Netherlands, which calls for Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) to be held accountable for contributing to negative impacts on the environment, human rights and corruption through its sourcing of palm oil from the Ucayali region in the Peruvian Amazon.
On 1 December 2022, Peruvian Indigenous organisations AIDESEP and FECONAU, together with a coalition of Peruvian and international human rights and environmental organisations, filed a complaint to the National Contact Point (NCP) of the OECD Guidelines in the Netherlands against Louis Dreyfus Company B.V., a major Netherlands-based leader in the trade of agricultural commodities. This is the first case to address the breach of the OECD Guidelines by a major palm oil commodity trader before the Dutch NCP.
The supplier of Louis Dreyfus Company B.V.—the Ocho Sur Group—operates on lands in the Peruvian Amazon that were unlawfully appropriated under national and international law and that are part of the ancestral territory of the Indigenous community of Santa Clara de Uchunya and the Shipibo-Konibo people.
The oil palm plantations run by Ocho Sur U and Ocho Sur P, led to over 12,000 hectares of illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, 91% of it being primary forest. The oil palm plantations continue to operate to this day without environmental certifications.
The complaint before the Dutch NCP alleges that Louis Dreyfus Company B.V.:
Failed to undertake appropriate due diligence to identify, prevent and mitigate adverse impacts caused by its business relationship with the Ocho Sur Group in Peru.
Contributed to the adverse environmental and human rights impact caused by the Ocho Sur Group in Peru.
Breached the OECD standards in relation to disclosure, communication and consultation due to the misleading claims on Louis Dreyfus Company’s website and in other official publications, related to palm oil sustainability, its “green” credentials and the compatibility of its operations with human rights and the environment.
With this case, the coalition requests the NCP to address the urgent, serious and irreparable impacts of corporate harm underway in the Peruvian Amazon. It also seeks to show the predominant role that Louis Dreyfus Company B.V. and other major commodity traders should play in the global market of agricultural commodities in promoting real compliance with human rights and sustainability standards.
“LDC should thus cease its contribution to the adverse impacts in Peru and ensure that it no longer partners with businesses that resort to illegal appropriation of land, unlawful deforestation, rights violations, breaches of international human rights and environmental standards, and corrupt practices to meet profitability requirements. LDC should use its leverage over [Servicios Agrarios de Pucallpa, part of the Ocho Sur Group] to bring the violations to an end and to address, mitigate, and remediate the adverse impacts to date.”
From the complaint text sent to NCP of the OECD Guidelines
In filing this complaint with the Dutch NCP, the complainants expect that facilitated dialogue will result in a series of actions by LDC, including the following:
LDC’s acknowledgement of responsibility for the adverse impacts on the environment—in particular, the Amazon region—and on the human rights of the Indigenous community of Santa Clara de Uchunya and the Shipibo-Konibo people.
LDC’s immediate halting of its contribution to the ongoing harms and exercising its leverage to prevent future adverse impacts from its business relationship with the Ocho Sur Group, including by publicly committing to suspend sourcing of palm oil from Ocho Sur until they have resolved problems concerning the legality and sustainability of their operations and remediated the harms they have caused.
Public disclosure of the concrete due diligence procedures and steps that LDC has taken to date to identify, prevent and mitigate the adverse impacts caused by its business relationship with the Ocho Sur Group.
Addressing concerns raised by the members of the Santa Clara de Uchunya Indigenous community and the Shipibo-Konibo people, such as violations of their right to own, develop, control and use their ancestral territory and the lack of free, prior and informed consent for the establishment of the plantations and the construction of the extraction plant, and discussion of the desired and appropriate remediation with the rightsholders, ensuring their right to effective remedy.
Adoption of all measures within LDC’s capacity and leverage to ensure access to justice for victims of any acts of violence or other form of harassment, and to prevent attacks against human rights defenders.
In addition, the complainants call upon LDC to develop new and effective group-wide cross-commodity NDPE and Palm Sustainability Policy, Palm Grievance Protocol, and due diligence methods, as well as amend misleading, incorrect or incomplete public claims about the actual environmental and human rights impacts and sustainability of LDC’s supply chain.
Read the full complaint
Read the Original Press Release in English or Spanish
The complaint to the OECD’s Dutch NCP was presented by the Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana - AIDESEP, the Federación de Comunidades Nativas de Ucayali y Afluentes - FECONAU, the Instituto de Defensa Legal, the Instituto de Estudios Forestales y Ambientales – Kené, EIA - Environmental Investigation Agency, the Center for Climate Crime Analysis and Forest Peoples Programme. The latter alerted that LDC was sourcing palm oil from deforested Indigenous lands in the Peruvian Amazon in July 2021.
Throughout 2022, community members from Santa Clara de Uchunya, FECONAU, AIDESEP and allied organisations have repeatedly publicly denounced intimidation and criminalisation tactics used by the Ocho Sur Group:
The Ocho Sur Group companies, including Ocho Sur P, Ocho Sur U and Servicios Agrarios de Pucallpa SAC, are owned by Peruvian Palm Holdings Ltd, based in offshore tax haven Bermuda, and have received international investment led by the Anholt group. Connecticut-based Anholt Services (USA) Inc. has invested in the Ucayali plantation development since 2012. Anholt Services is wholly owned by Anholt Investments Ltd, a Bermuda-based company, and is a wholly owned affiliate of the Kattegat Trust, also registered in Bermuda. Ocho Sur has also received private equity investment from New York-based Amerra Capital Management LLC.
Ocho Sur is currently subject to a grievance brought by another of its European palm oil buyers – Bunge Loders Croklaan (BLC), which blocked the company in its supply chain due to allegations of human rights abuses and deforestation. In October 2022, BLC announced via its website that it "encourage[d] Ocho Sur to work with AIDESEP to address the allegations of the Open Letter: "AIDESEP repudiates Ocho Sur palm oil group intimidation, demands buyers step up to protect human rights and forests." Moreover, BLC found that "recent land clearing/deforestation has occurred inside and around concessions", adding that "the company in question and its associates will remain blocked in Bunge's supply chain until a credible and robust Recovery Plan is developed."