Abuses in DRC’s palm oil industry linked to Belgian development bank

Abuses in DRC’s palm oil industry linked to Belgian development bank
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from fruit grown on the African oil palm tree. Credit: OneVillageInitiative/Flickr.

The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries has been linked to palm oil abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Human Rights Watch report released on Monday reveals.

The report, the product of over 200 interviews, explains how four European development banks are “financing a palm oil company in the DRC that is violating workers’ rights and dumping untreated waste.”

Since 2013, the four banks have invested a total of nearly $100 million in the palm oil company Feronia and its subsidiary Plantations et Huileries du Congo S.A. (PHC) (together called “the company”), which operates three palm oil plantations spanning over 100,000 hectares in northern Congo.

Feronia and PHC expose workers to dangerous pesticides, dump untreated industrial waste into local waterways and engage in abusive employment practices that result in extreme poverty wages, the report found.

“These banks can play an important role promoting development, but they are sabotaging their mission by failing to ensure that the company they finance respects the rights of its workers and communities on the plantations,” said the author of the report, Luciana Téllez, in a press release.

“The banks should insist that Feronia remedies the abuses and commits to a concrete plan to end them,” added Téllez.

Evie McCullough
The Brussels Times

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