The Indonesian oil palm company, Golden Veroleum Liberia, has taken exception to the recent report by the Independent National Commission on Human Rights on the cause of the May 26th disturbance at its Butaw Estate in Sinoe County, Southeast Liberia.
A release issued here by the company noted that during the investigation, the INHCR representatives interviewed community residents, GVL staff and individuals involved in the disturbance. It noted that the INHCR in its report concluded certain findings, however, certain information appears to have been excluded, adding that according to the report, on Sunday, May 24, 2015, the Butaw Youth Association addressed a letter to a visiting GVL investor requesting an immediate meeting.
GVL said the initial letter received from BYA was dated May 24, 2015, to which it responded the same day, indicating that senior management was in the midst of an internal workshop and requested that the meeting be postponed for a later date.
The release said some rioters were arrested by the Liberia National Police and eventually charged with rioting and failure to disburse, economic sabotage, arm robbery criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, terroristic threat, criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy, theft of property, burglary, kidnapping, felonious restraint and disorderly conduct, and that since the arrest, the Ministry of Justice has initiated legal proceedings.
“GVL has publically stated that those arrested should be treated with dignity and respect and afforded appropriate opportunities to be represented under the legal system of the Republic of Liberia. GVL is concerned for the safety and well-being of those involved, as well as its staff and employees”, the release read.
“INCHR additionally recommended that royalties should be paid directly to Butaw citizens. The fact is that GVL deposited in March 2015 37,200 USD into the Butaw Community Development Fund in accordance with its concession agreement obligations.
“The Butaw District Community Development Fund Committee was formed in 2014 to oversee the use of the fund with the specific aims, purposes and objectives to control, manage and administer the community development fund, select social infrastructural development projects such as education, health, roads and make financial policies and rules for its financial operatives in line with the concession agreement and international accounting standards.”
According to the company, the INCHR report further asserts that there have been delays in the implementation of the timeline agreement reached between Butaw citizens and GVL in February 2015, and that the boundary harmonization between Butaw and its neighboring community of Murrysville should be addressed with the urgency it deserves.
GVL explains that according to the agreed upon timeline, there is a specific sequence of events, with the first being the submission of the Community development Fund project to the CDF committee, which has already been accomplished; and the second item agreed to is the boundary harmonization between Butaw and Murrysville.
“This step has yet to be accomplished and can only be accomplished by the citizens of Butaw and Murrysville. The additional steps (following boundary harmonization) are dependent upon this step to be taken. A copy of the Butaw timeline may be viewed online on the GVL website”, the release concluded. Press Release