KUALA LUMPUR (June 4): Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) has appointed Australian human rights lawyer Professor Justine Nolan to its Expert Stakeholder Human Rights Assessment Commission.
The planter said that the commission, which was established in March, is composed of ethical trade consultancy Impactt Ltd and a stakeholder consultation panel. Nolan, along with human rights researcher Andy Hall and the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) are on the stakeholder consultation panel.
“Professor Nolan’s wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of modern slavery, business and human rights, international human rights law, CSR and corporate ethics are invaluable resources to SDP as we navigate through some of the current issues”, SDP managing director Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha said in a statement.
SDP said Nolan replaces non-profit outfit Shift on the stakeholder commission panel. Shift had withdrawn from the panel in March after SDP sued Liberty Shared managing director Duncan Jepson in connection with claims of worker abuse.
SDP said Nolan, together with other members of the commission, will provide an additional view on ethical trade consultant Impactt Ltd’s assessment methodology. She will also assist in reviewing any proposed remediation plans recommended for implementation by Impactt.
When SDP announced the establishment of the commission three months ago, it also appointed Impactt as a third-party assessor to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the group’s labour practices across its Malaysian operations.
SDP said Nolan has over two decades of experience in business and human rights, and teaches in the Faculty of Law and Justice at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, while also serving as the director of the Australian Human Rights Institute.
Prior to joining UNSW in 2004, she was the director of the business and human rights programme at the Lawyers Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in the US — where she advised both companies and civil society organisations on effective strategies to protect human rights in the corporate sphere and was closely involved in the establishment of the Fair Labor Association.
Nolan is a holder of a Master of Public Policy from the University of California and obtained her Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the Australian National University in 1991.
She is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Business and Human Rights Journal.
Her 2019 co-authored book “Addressing Modern Slavery” examines how consumers, businesses and governments are part of the problem and the solution in curbing modern slavery in global supply chains.
Nolan was also named 'Academic of the Year' at the Australian Law Awards in 2019.
SDP said it expects Impactt’s comprehensive evaluation of its labour practices across its Malaysian operations, which uses the International Labour Organisation’s 11 indicators of forced labour as a framework, to be completed this month.
A report on Impactt’s findings will be submitted to the stakeholder consultation panel, and after which SDP, Impactt and the panel will agree on remediation plans.
“SDP has committed to transparent disclosure of the commission’s findings, as well as any remediation measures required to ensure safe working and living conditions for all its workers, now and into the future,” the planter added.
On Dec 30 last year, the US Customs and Border Protection issued a withhold release order (WRO) against SDP’s palm oil, based on ‘information that reasonably indicates the presence of all 11 of the ILO’s forced labour indicators in SDP’s production process’.
The WRO was issued after a petition was filed in April 2020 against the group.
Shares in SDP closed 1.57% or seven lower at RM4.38, valuing the group at RM30.29 billion. The counter saw 2.45 million shares traded.
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