On Wednesday, 8 July, SAYS reported on a petition that alleged conditions of forced labour and child labour at Sime Darby Plantation
In a statement in response to our report, the company today, 9 July, said that as a responsible producer of palm oil, Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) is concerned over the serious allegations.
The petition by a Hong Kong-based anti-trafficking group was submitted to the US Customs and Border Protection to ban imports of palm oil products from the world's largest listed palm oil company.
"These are serious allegations that are against the commitments that we have publicly made, as articulated in our Responsible Agriculture Charter and our Human Rights Charter," SDP said in the statement.
The company said that the petition by Liberty Shared was submitted to the US Customs without soliciting any feedback from them
"We wish to point out that the petition was submitted without soliciting any feedback from our company," SDP said, adding that they have access "only to the petition summary which provides issues that were raised, without any details on the interviews that were conducted".
According to the company, they intend to engage with Liberty Shared to further understand the allegations in detail to enable SDP to conduct a thorough and immediate investigation and take corrective action.
"We believe this, in turn, will further help strengthen our practices globally to ensure we embed the respect for Human Rights on the ground throughout our operations," SDP said.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian oil palm planter said that they are truly committed to eradicating instances of non-compliance by imposing immediate and appropriate corrective actions if and when they arise
"We believe over the years we have made genuine progress in improving our labour practices on the ground through various initiatives and collaborations with multiple partners and NGOs. Our efforts can be seen in various disclosures that we have made public, which includes our latest Sustainability Report 2019, published in May 2020," it said.
"We acknowledge the challenges and complexity of the supply chains across the industry and, therefore, of implementing our NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation) commitments. Nevertheless, we are truly committed to eradicating instances of non-compliance by imposing immediate and appropriate corrective actions if and when they arise."
In the petition, which was made public this week, the group accused Sime Darby of "too many structural weaknesses":