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World Bank accused of involvement in deadly land-conflict in Honduras

Human rights groups accuse the World Bank’s private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), of ignoring warnings that its funding for the Honduran palm oil industry is helping fuel a deadly land conflict in Honduras.

The Global Post reports how Hondurans describe a state of terror in the Aguan Valley, and say police, military and landowners’ security forces are working together to blockade roads, burn farmers’ homes and hunt down, torture and murder land activists, lawyers and journalists. According to the report, at least 92 people have been killed in land disputes in the Aguan Valley between 2009 and 2012, most of them land activists, according to the country’s human rights commissioner.

"At the heart of the issue is the IFC’s client, Corporacion Dinant, an African palm oil and food giant run by one of Honduras’s most powerful men, Miguel Facusse. Although Facusse says he’s committed to the community’s welfare, human rights groups accuse the 89-year-old and his security forces of possible crimes against humanity related to the killing, kidnapping and forced eviction of farmers in one of Central America’s bloodiest recent agricultural conflicts. Dinant spokesman Roger Pineda rejected accusations the company’s security forces have been involved in violence against anyone claiming rights to Facusse’s property."

"Concerns about the social and environmental impacts of the IFC’s investment in the country have triggered an internal investigation. The controversy is casting doubts about whether the bank and its 182 member countries can respect their own code of ethics while doing business in politically unstable, corrupt societies. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim recently acknowledged the concerns and pledged an action plan to respond to the findings of the internal investigation."

"The audit has been in the works since April 2012, when the World Bank’s internal watchdog, the Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, said it would look into whether the IFC’s funding had negative social or environmental impacts on and around Dinant’s plantations. The resulting inquiry revealed the IFC was involved in an elaborate funding program that kept millions pouring into Dinant even after the bank registered concerns about the violent land conflicts."

For the joint civil society press release, click here

For the Global Post report, please visit: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/140103/world-bank-honduras-dinant-african-palm