In March 2022, Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Walhi released a report – “No Consent Astra Agro Lestari’s land grab in Central and West Sulawesi, Indonesia”. The report claimed that PT Agro Nusa Abadi, PT Lestari Tana Teladan, and PT Mamuang, AAL are responsible for various violations of the environment, human rights, and governance.
The report claimed that the three subsidiaries are embroiled in protracted land conflicts with local communities in Central and West Sulawesi, accused of violent land-grabbing abetted by Indonesian security forces, and implicated in illegal deforestation, forest encroachment, and soil, air, and water pollution with negative impacts to communities’ livelihoods.
Apical reached out to PT AAL to investigate the above allegations
Apical held a meeting with Astra on the allegation. Astra informed that they are aware of the report and has provided them with its response in March 2022. AAL informed that they always operated in accordance with Indonesia law.
In a statement that AAL further clarify that PT Mamuang (Mamuang), PT Lestari Tani Teladan (LTT) and PT Agro Nusa Abadi (ANA) have always operated in accordance with the law in Indonesia and hold all the necessary permits to conduct their business and operations. None of these AAL subsidiary companies is involved in any illegal land acquisitions.
AAL also informed that all of its subsidiaries do not engage in any form of ‘land grabbing’ or human rights violations. As a responsible and sustainable operator with a long history in Indonesia, AAL take any overlapping land ownership claims extremely seriously and rely on the established legal system to resolve any ownership disputes.
On the environmental issue, AAL committed to running its business in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner, in compliance with all applicable laws. This includes managing its impact on the local environment and helping to support the livelihoods of local communities. Since 2015, ALL has formalised their commitment to the NDPE principles of “No Deforestation, No Peat Development, and Respecting Human Rights”, following which there has been no new development of land. NDPE is also a critical element of its 5-year sustainability plan (2021-2025), in which AAL outlines specific steps for each category.
Having investigated each of the allegations made in the FoE report in detail, AAL is confident in the processes that it has in place across the group to ensure that it is operating responsibly and in accordance with its operating procedures and in line with all applicable regulations. The statement can be found here
Apical held further engagement via a meeting with PT AAL on the allegations raised. Astra has informed that an open response (available here) has been provided with further clarification. PT AAL has reaffirmed that the company operates in accordance with sustainable best practices and Indonesia law. Information of the allegation with clarification provided from the engagement with PT AAL on progress being made is as per listed below:
- The mill has been operating legally with operating permit (HGU) since 1997. The claimant of land (Hemsi) has not been able to demonstrate his land rights (SHM), which was confirmed by the local authority that no SHM was issued to him.
- On the alleged criminalisation of farmer, the decision upheld by the court is on the theft of palm fruits by a few individuals. Police investigation has confirmed this.
PT Lestari Tani Teladan (LTL)
- Based on an NGO report, “the local community has requested about 60-100 hectares of land to be enclaved from the HGU (LTL’s operating permit)”. This is consistent with PT AAL operating with legal operating permit.
- As an ISPO certified mill, the price of FFB is determined according to Dinas Perkebunan (local authority in Indonesia) which ensures transparent FFB pricing.
PT Agro Nusa Abadi (ANA)
- Based on clarification, 730 ha of land is still in the process of completing compensation. It is a common legal process for compensation and acquiring ILOK/IUP/HGU (operating permit), ANA has demonstrated evidence that they are abiding by the laws and due process.
Apical continues to monitor the development of this case. Meanwhile, we reaffirm a prudent approach and ensure no sourcing from the reported subsidiaries of PT AAL enters into Apical’s supply chain until significant progress is made on the alleged violations or the case is resolved.
PT AAL has published a response statement in clarifying allegations raised by complainants.
PT AAL also committed to appoint an independent third party to review the allegations and to publish the findings of the investigation. On March 31st, PT AAL made an announcement that EcoNusantara has been appointed as a third party verifier for a period of 6 months, starting April 2023.
Apical continues to monitor the progress of this case and will engage with PT AAL management to follow up on the commitments and progress of the investigation.