FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

27 June 2014

Liberia: SIFCA Accused of Violating Communities' Rights in Liberia's Southeast

Monrovia — SIFCA an agribusiness group which operates in Liberia through two subsidiaries Maryland Palm Oil Plantation (MOPP) and Cavalla Rubber Corporation's (CRC) has been accused of human rights violations in a report by Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (SESDev).

SESDev's investigations also uncovered violations by the company of both Liberian and international law. Alarmingly MOPP commenced operations, with the authorisation of the Government of Liberia, prior to the negotiation of a concession agreement. The contract allocation process for both concessions also failed to adhere to Liberian law.

SIFCA which is part owned by Singaporean agribusiness giant Wilmar is also failing to adhere to Wilmar's 'No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation' policy. SIFCA is also not complying with its financiers policies; the African Development Bank.

SIFCA's operations have resulted in serious rights violations of Liberian communities. These include violating communities' customary land rights, failing to obtain communities' Free, Prior, Informed Consent and illegally clearing land without community consent. Communities have been forcibly resettled without due process or equitable compensation. Communities have also suffered arbitrary arrest and intimidation and harassment by SIFCA and the Liberia National Police.

The African Development Bank's own studies of the project found it would have a severely negative impact on communities. It found that underemployment will increase as land is taken from communities. That communities impacted by the project having only 20% of the income of non-affected communities. It concluded that the compensation process used would 'have a long term impoverishing effect on affected households'.

"SIFCA has destroyed our farmland so we can no longer grow enough food to feed ourselves. Now they are resettling people and leaving them destitute" says Alex Nyemah an affected community member and representative from Association of Conscious Citiziens, a local community based organisation in Maryland County.

"SIFCA are trampling over communities' rights and flouting the law. It is incredulous that the government authorised SIFCA to begin clearing land without a concession agreement" commented Daniel Krakue, Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development.

"The Government of Liberia and SIFCA must immediately address these issues. Wilmar and the African Development Bank also bear responsibility and must examine their reckless investments which violate communities' rights" added Wilhemina B. Beyan, Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development.

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