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Down to Earth No. 56, February 2003

Pulp companies and human rights abuses:
Human Rights Watch report

Pulp firms rank among Indonesia's most financially-troubled companies. They include the most deeply indebted of all, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), currently attempting to restructure its whopping US$13.9 billion debt with international creditors. APP, Indonesia's biggest pulp producer, has been singled out in a new report by New York-based group, Human Rights Watch, for being complicit in a series of human rights abuses against local people opposing its operations. APP and its sister company Arara Abadi, "also benefited from state security forces that intimidated, harassed and assaulted villagers who opposed the company's operations and its acquisition of land in Riau, according to Human Rights Watch's Asia Division director, Mike Jendrzejczyk.

In its recommendations to the Indonesian government, Human Rights Watch says firm steps are needed to fulfil commitments made to the International Monetary Fund and Indonesia's creditors in the CGI to address tenure disputes on state forest land.

"Such steps would include the reclassification of State Forest illegally established on indigenous territory, support for implementation of legislation providing for communal titling for indigenous groups, and a transparent titling process with a built-in appeals process through an independent land claims board/ombudsman."

To private financial institutions, HRW recommends undertaking "rigorous due diligence to ensure that companies in which investments are made do not violate international human rights law."

The HRW report, Without Remedy: Human Rights Abuse and Indonesia's Pulp and Paper Industry, Vol. 15 No. 1 (C) - January 2003, is available in English and Indonesian - see

(Source: Jakarta Post 8/Jan/03. See also DTE 52 for more on APP)

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