Two leases had been originally issued in 2012 to two companies covering 38,350 hectares. Later, the Malaysian oil palm company Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK), a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), together with Malaysian investment company BatuKawan, acquired the rights to these leased lands via a third company: Collingwood Bay Plantations.
In protest, the communities presented a case to the National Court in Port Moresby, that recently declared that the leases of land are null and void and ordered the State to cancel the title deeds. For Collingwood Bay the court has accepted that the customary landowners never gave their consent to their land being leased and that the lease applications contained serious flaws.
In April 2013, the Collingwood Bay landowners had also filed a formal complaint with the RSPO pointing out that KLK’s involvement in the leases breached RSPO policies. Yet, the RSPO did not take any action against KLK.
The legal victory obtained now will be a serious embarrassment for KLK, BatuKawan and the RSPO.