- Published on Friday, 16 November 2012 08:10
- Written by By Alloycious David
…Sinoe Citizens Complain Golden Veroleum
Citizens affected by Golden Veroleum’s operation in Butaw District, Sinoe County, are alleging that they are living in constant fear of threats, harassments, and intimidation because they have refused to permit Golden Veroleum to take away their ancestral land for palm oil production purposes.
The citizens in a complaint to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said “As a result we live in constant fear and are worried about our safety and security.”
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a non-profit consortium of stakeholders from the palm oil industry set up with an aim to develop and implement global standards for producing palm oil. Golden Veroleum is a member of the RSPO.
The Company’s Vice President for Governmental Affairs, Henri Harmon has termed the allegation as untrue.
The citizens’ complaint dated October 1, 2012, is posted on the website of several international media institutions.
The Sinoe County citizens in their complaint also noted that “this month after we organized ourselves to engage with Golden Veroleum, the local authorities and the Government of Liberia on the operation of Golden Veroleum on our land, our Co-Chairman, Teah Dormah, who had travelled to Monrovia, the Capital City of Liberia, along with other community leaders, youth, Chiefs, elders and women groups , to inform the relevant government authorities and the people of Liberia about the impact of the Golden Veroleum land clearing and planting operation, was illegally arrested and detained upon his return home to Butaw, Sinoe County.”
They further stated that Co-Chairman Dormah was imprisoned for more than five days without charge and without being given any opportunity to obtain a bail to secure his temporary release.
“Furthermore, Chief Teah Bloh, Town chief for Butaw town who travelled with other community leaders, youth representatives, chiefs, elders and women representatives to Monrovia to inform the relevant authorities and about the impact of the company land clearing and planting operation was illegally suspended from his position as a Chief upon his return to the town.
They also alleged that in a very specific incidence of threats, intimidation, harassments and illegal detention and arrest supported and facilitated by Golden Veroleum, on August 16th 2012.”
According to them, similar situation occurred on August the 17, 2012, when Benedict Manawah, another community leader who had raised concerns about the manner in which Golden Veroleum was forcefully grabbing their land, destroying crops and destroying drinking water sources was also illegally arrested and detained by the Police.
They disclosed that in these two instances not a single charge was brought against the two community leaders and not a single writ of arrest authorized by a judge was presented to them.
The citizens further stated that “in instances and occasions where some of our people have made inquiries and requested that Golden Veroleum, consult more directly with us and our local community leaders and obtain our free prior informed consent prior to proceeding with their planting and clearing operations, Golden Veroleum has usually referred those community members and some of our leaders to the local Government authorities who have used threats, intimidation, harassments and threat of arrest and detention to forcefully take away our customary lands, crops and farmlands without our Free Prior Informed consent.”
The Sinoe citizens also said:“We write to formally complain and bring to your attention that Golden Veroleum is currently engaged in active land clearing, infrastructure development, planting of new oil palm including the massive establishment of an oil palm nursery on our customary land without our free prior informed consent as well as violating the RSPO New planting procedures which requires Golden Veroleum to provide public notification for a minimum of 30 days prior to land preparation and clearing.”
They noted that the company is also in violations of the new planting procure (NPP) because as a registered grower whose membership was approved since August 29, 2011 which requires members to adhere, comply with and implement the RSPO standards and procedures, Golden Veroleum has commenced land preparation, planting of new oil palm, nursery establishment and infrastructure development without providing public notification for a minimum of 30 days prior to land preparation and clearing.