“Is there an end in sight to labor abuses for this certified “sustainable” palm oil producer?”
One year ago, in June 2022, a delegation of communities from Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria was in Brussels to denounce the dispossession of their land and the violation of their rights by the Belgian rubber and palm oil company, SIAT (Société d’investissement pour l’agriculture tropicale), one of the biggest global providers of palm oil and rubber from West Africa to the European market. Their visit, organised with the support of CIDSE and other civil society organisations including AEFJN, Entraide et Fraternité – CIDSE Belgian member organisation, CNCD-11.11.11 and FIAN Belgium, ended with a mobilisation in front of the company’s headquarters, after political meetings around the draft European Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence law and meetings with the press.
Magdalena Krukowska, a Polish journalist based in Brussels cooperating with Forbes (Polska) magazine for the last 15 years, decided to further investigate abuses by SIAT. Together with Zuza Nazaruk, a Rotterdam-based journalist, she interviewed members of two communities in Ivory Coast and Ghana who claim their lands, held and cultivated by local farmers under customary tenure systems, have been taken over by SIAT.
Part of their investigation focused on SIAT’s membership in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – a global certification scheme for sustainable palm oil – despite numerous allegations of abuses.
The journalists also investigated the role that companies buying SIAT’s products played in lobbying against the EU Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive.
The outcomes are a series of articles published on 24 May 2023 by Unbias the News and iWatch Africa as well as a documentary which is currently in production.
CIDSE contact person: Giuseppe Cioffo, Corporate Power Officer (Cioffo(at)cidse.org)
Cover illustration: Unbias the News via Midjourney