PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has established an expert stakeholder human rights assessment commission and has appointed ethical trade consultant, Impactt Ltd as its third-party assessor, to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of SDP’s labour practices across its Malaysian operations.
It stated that the consultant has expertise in detecting and remediating forced labour issues in supply chains in line with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 11 indicators of forced labour.
The panel is also expected to review whether or not forced labour indicators are detected within SDP’s operations, and if there are any, to determine how prevalent the issue is.
In addition, it will review any proposed remediation plans recommended for implementation by the assessor, which will offer stakeholders the comfort of independent and transparent oversight.
The stakeholder panel includes Shift, the leading centre of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; migrant worker rights activist and human rights researcher Andy Hall; along with a representative of the National Union of Plantation Workers, the largest trade union for plantation workers in Malaysia.
Its group managing director Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha expressed that the establishment of the commission is an important and transparent step the group is taking to move forward.
To recap, on Dec 30, 2020, the US Customs and Border Protection issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against SDP’s palm oil based on information that reasonably indicated the presence of all 11 of the ILO’s forced labour indicators in its production process.
The WRO was issued after a petition had been filed in April 2020 against SDP, which was then announced in July 2021.
Since then the group has engaged with involved stakeholders to understand the issues raised and take any necessary remediation measures, but said it has not received useful information from the complainant who filed the petition despite various engagements.