Withdraw SLAPP suit against Sarawak NGO, over 100 groups tell timber giant

Samling Group is suing civil society organisation Save Rivers and its directors in a SLAPP suit

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Timber certification in Sarawak
Photo: Save Rivers

Over 100 organisations sent a letter to Malaysian timber giant Samling asking it to withdraw its legal suit against Save Rivers and its board members.

Samling was also asked to provide the communities of its Gerenai and Ravenscourt concessions in Sarawak’s Baram and Limbang region with all of the environmental and social impact assessments conducted for certification by the PEFC-endorsed Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme.

The suit claims Save Rivers made defamatory statements about the company in several press releases throughout 2020 and 2021, questioning the sustainability of Samling’s logging operations in Sarawak and the certification process by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC).

The signatories from Malaysia and around the world believe this suit is strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP), and is part of a growing international trend of silencing human rights and environmental defenders.

The suit against Save Rivers was filed after indigenous communities had lodged official complaints with the MTCC. Save Rivers reported on this process and on the community resistance to Samling’s logging concessions leading up to this point. Although Save Rivers was not the entity to file the complaints, the MTCC is no longer moving forward with a dispute resolution process due to the suit filed by Samling.

“This unprecedented move begs the question, did Samling file the suit in order to disrupt the dispute resolution process and avoid accountability?” Lukas Straumann, executive director of the Bruno Manser Fund, said.

“We request Samling to stop legal action and engage in meaningful dialogue. As a first step, all necessary documents required for Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) need to be released, such as the full environmental and social impact assessments, including the High Conservation Value Assessment for their logging concessions.”

“If they are truly committed to sustainability and obtaining free, prior, and informed consent, Samling should work with communities and allow the Dispute Resolution Process to proceed rather than strong-arm local resistance into silence,” Jettie Word, executive director of The Borneo Project, said.

View the sign-on letter here: http://borneoproject.org/letter-stoptheslapp/

The Borneo Project

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