Dinant is proud of its Honduran heritage. We have operated in this country for over half a century and care deeply about the well-being of our 8,000 employees and their families, the many farmers that supply our processing plants, and the neighboring communities of which we are part. We intend to remain members of these communities for the long term, continuing to enhance the quality of life of all citizens that live and work here.
Dinant is constantly striving to improve and modernize its operations in ways that bring benefits to our businesses and society as a whole. In recent years, we have invested significantly in modernizing our security procedures, our environmental practices and our community engagement programs. For example, Dinant is implementing the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. We have removed all firearms from security guards at our plantations, extraction mills and manufacturing plants. We benchmark our African Palm oil operations against stringent international standards. All Dinant facilities in Honduras have been awarded ISO 14000 and OHSAS 18001 status as a mark of our progress in environmental management and occupational health & safety. In addition, through our local Community Grievance Mechanisms in Honduras, people impacted directly by our operations have an accessible, transparent and effective mechanism for raising their concerns, and they can expect to receive a constructive response from Dinant. I am confident that Dinant is leading the way in Honduras and the Central American region in how we secure our facilities, protect the environment, and interact with local people. However, I know that there is more that we can and must do.
Like all organizations, Dinant is not perfect. We want to acknowledge, assume responsibility for, and correct our mistakes – professionally and openly – and learn from them. Having operated successfully and peacefully in Honduras for several decades prior to the land conflicts, we recognize that Dinant was not initially prepared, trained nor equipped to deal with the complex security situation that has afflicted the country since 2009, particularly in the Aguán region. We know that there is continuing pain for family members of individuals who were tragically killed during the land conflicts between 2010-2012. Some of those lost lives were people working for Dinant; others were members of local communities that were reported to be part of peasant movements within the region. We are deeply saddened by the tragic and unnecessary deaths. All of those lives count, and all deserve to be remembered and for justice to be served. Dinant is committed to working with the General Attorney’s office to ensure that, to the extent of our capabilities, there is legal accountability for these lost lives. If there was any disproportionate use of force by Dinant security staff and contractors in their efforts to defend themselves, company employees and property, then such cases must be addressed by a public investigation and appropriate legal action taken as soon as possible. We ask that the same standard apply to all parties.
While Governments and their security forces have responsibility for enforcing law and order, we know that we can help improve very difficult situations by respecting and following local laws and international standards, by mitigating the potential for conflict, and by supporting the public authorities as much as we can. I am confident that, by reflecting on our past actions and through Dinant’s commitment to continually improve our security procedures, our respect for human rights and our extensive community engagement programs, we have the systems and processes in place to try to ensure that such tragedies do not happen again.
We accept that some people have a different opinion regarding the causes of and solutions to the land conflicts in Honduras. We recognize the value and the importance of engaging peacefully and transparently with those that hold other viewpoints, and believe that some common points of mutual interest can be found. Dinant and many other local stakeholders are participating in an approach being suggested by the Consensus Building Institute, under the supervision of the IFC, to help find a peaceful and final solution to the fragile and delicate situation in the Aguán region.
I welcome dialogue and invite all interested parties to visit our African Palm oil plantations in the Bajo Aguán region, as well as the rest of our operations sites, to see the results of the extensive resources that Dinant is investing in community engagement, and environmental and social management.
Miguel Mauricio Facusse
Executive President, Corporación Dinant
January 14, 2016