The certification body Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has announced the end of its contracts with the The Swiss-German timber group Danzer after accusation of human-rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Siforco logging operation, when owned by Danzer, was involved in "unacceptable activities". In May 2011 Siforco called the police and military to quell protests by local communities in Yasilika village against the company’s operations and their failure to fulfill social obligations. Many of the local community were subsequently injured and had the their properties destroyed. There were also allegations of rape by the police. One villager, Mr Momoma Tika Frederic, was savagely beaten and later died for the injuries.
Danzer will be 'disassociated' from the FSC, the global certification system for responsible for forest management. This means the company loses all its FSC certificates worldwide. "Based on the unanimous recommendation of the Complaints Panel, which spent several months analyzing the case, and whose work was also reviewed by a Board Complaints Resolution Committee, the Board of Directors decided that Danzer was in violation of FSC’s Policy for Association" said Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC, in a statement. "Our continued association with the Danzer Group clearly puts FSC’s credibility and reputation at risk."
After the case, Danzer sold Siforco to Blattner Group in February, 2012, but according to FSC, the logging company need to take responsibility for its activities. The contract termination, known as “disassociation,” is the most severe sanction the FSC can impose on a company. The group "will not be granted a new Trademark Licensing Agreement, effectively blocking FSC certification, until the Danzer Group has performed fully on its obligations towards the Yalisika community and until independent monitoring verifies that Siforco is not involved in illegal logging activities,” the FSC said. The disassociation affects Danzer’s subsidiary Industrie Forestiere de Ouesso, or IFO, which runs the largest FSC-certified forestry project in the Congo Basin in neighboring Republic of Congo, the council said.
"Greenpeace is pleased the FSC is showing that its Policy for Association has teeth and is not risking its reputation by being associated with the Danzer Group due to its involvement in human rights violations. We find this landmark decision critical for the credibility of the FSC," said Judy Rodrigues, senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace International.
"Unfortunately, the Yalisika case is not an isolated event. Violent conflicts occur frequently in the DRC where the logging sector is in a state of organised chaos." "This case shows that the FSC needs to urgently establish certification safeguards in high risk areas where there are high levels of corruption and where good governance, the rule of law and organized civil society are all lacking."
Global Witness and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a criminal complaint against the Swiss-German timber manufacturer accusing it of aiding and abetting grave human rights violations against members of a forest community in the DRC.