Logging company sues environmental defenders for RM 5,000,000

Samling Group is suing local Sarawak civil society organisation and its directors in a SLAPP suit

(MIRI / SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) Local Sarawak civil society organisation SAVE Rivers, as well as its directors, have been served with notice that Samling Plywood is filing suit against them for publishing allegedly defamatory statements. The logging company is seeking an apology, an injunction stopping SAVE Rivers from reporting community claims, and damages in the sum of RM5,000,000.
A growing coalition of local and international organisations, including Bruno Manser Fund and The Borneo Project, are calling on Samling to drop the lawsuit. They argue that this strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) suit seems designed to suppress local advocacy, allowing Samling to continue its logging operations. The coalition stands with SAVE Rivers in completely rejecting the defamation claim.
Through the #StopTheChop campaign, communities of the Baram and Limbang rivers have been campaigning for more transparency and adequate consultations regarding logging concessions certified under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) for over a year. Communities have alleged that they have not had adequate access to the social and environmental impact assessments on which logging concessions are based, and several communities also allege that they were not consulted about the concessions prior to their approval.
Community groups submitted official complaints to the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) dispute resolution committee, which has opened a case to try to resolve the conflicts between Samling and Indigenous communities. Samling filed its suit while this mediation process was already underway, demonstrating a lack of good faith and undermining this non-adversarial avenue to resolving the conflict. Furthermore, this suit was filed after the MTCC initiated a stakeholder discussion between all involved parties. Samling has undermined the process by filing suit, resulting in MTCC withdrawing its invitation to hold any discussion pending resolution of the suit.

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