HALT THE DISCUSSION AND LEGALIZATION OF
THE DRAFT ACT ON ERADICATION OF FOREST DESTRUCTION (RUU P2H)
Indigenous Peoples have long been urging the forest reform. In each Congress of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (KMAN), National Working Meeting of AMAN (Rakernas AMAN) and meeting of AMAN’s various level organizers, criticism directed at the Act No. 41/1999 on Forestry (UUK) is always present. The criticisms and urges voiced to reform forestry law started from UUK are based on the reality that since being legalized fourteen years ago, UUK has been practically traumatizing indigenous peoples. It has become a legal basis for the seizure of ancestral domains by the state, mostly followed by the criminalization of and violence against Indigenous Peoples. The state usually gives the seized ancestral domains to logging companies, plantations and mining companies that until today keep denying the rights of Indigenous Peoples to live prosperously and sovereignly on their respective land.
In the last six months only, UUK has been being used as a legal foundation to arrest at least 218 members of Indigenous Peoples around the archipelago. The charges vary, from entering the forest without permission (as in the case of Datu Pekasa whom being jailed in Sumbawa) to fighting against state apparatus (as in the case of the indigenous people of Pandumaan Sipituhuta that fought against the state apparatus because they wanted to protect their ancestral forest, including benzoin forest), as well as other charges.
Being aware that forest law reform holding a significant role, in 2012 AMAN submitted Judicial Review on UUK, on which the Constitutional Court has yet to make a decision. The civil societies also encourage the revision of UUK, which has been included in National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) 2013. AMAN as well is pushing the Draft Act Draft Act on the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples (RUU Masyarakat Adat) to be legalized within this year. The existence of an Act protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples becomes important to guide other Acts related to Indigenous Peoples, including forestry acts.
Yet, amid the unsettled forestry affairs and the efforts of Indigenous Peoples and civil societies to push the policy changes to be more equitable, Government and Commission IV of the House of Representatives (Komisi IV DPR RI) are accelerating the adoption of the Act on Eradication of Forest Destruction (UU P2H).
The Draft Act on Eradication of Forest Destruction (RUU P2H) is indicatively discussed behind closed door. Indigenous Peoples as the ones heavily depend on forests and are affected the most once RUU P2H legalized have never been involved in discussions regarding the Draft. Public consultation with civil society organizations is never held as well. Civil society organizations, including AMAN, were shocked knowing that the House of Representatives (DPR RI) and Government would legalize RUU P2H on 2 April 2013 without any supposedly public consulting process.
RUU P2H substantially poses extreme dangers to Indigenous Peoples. First, the Draft is built on the vague law regarding land tenure system. Until today the Constitutional Court has yet to make any decision on the Judicial Review on UUK No. 41/1999 submitted by AMAN in 2012. It means that the ruling on ancestral forests has to follow UUK in which an ancestral forest is established as a state forest inside Indigenous Peoples’ domain.
Second, by being positioned as such and defined weakly by RUU P2H, criminalization against millions of Indigenous Peoples whose lives heavily depend on forests is unavoidable. RUU P2H is capable of criminalizing, for instance, a community’s member taking a timber 10 cm wide to build fence or bringing short machete into the forest. The weak definition of organized crime in RUU P2H can jail two members of Indigenous People entering their own ancestral forest without authority’s permission. Indigenous Peoples will undoubtedly lose all of their access to their own ancestral forests once the RUU P2H legalized.
The plan to legalize RUU P2H on 2 April 2013 shows that the legal reform regarding forestry and management of natural resources remain far from expected. It is indicated by the absence of government’s meaningful effort to address the Constitutional Court Ruling No. 45/2012 (regarding the Judicial Review submitted by several regents in Kalimantan Tengah province). The discussion on RUU P2H itself is insensible of the Judicial Review on Act No. 41/1999 on Forestry (UUK) submitted by AMAN in 2012, which is currently waiting for the ruling of Constitutional Court (Lawsuit No. 35/2012). The discussion and scheduled legalization of RUU P2H as well highlight the ignorance of government about both civil societies’ serious attempts to push the revision of UUK, which have been an agenda in DPR RI, and the discussion of RUU Masyarakat Adat in the DPR RI’s Legislation Body (Baleg). The discussion and legalization of RUU P2H should wait for the revision of UUK and legalization of RUU Masyarakat Adat. Thus the Acts legalized will not impinge on each other.
Therefore, AMAN urges DPR RI and the Government:
- To immediately halt the discussion of RUU P2H since it poses dangers to the lives and livelihood of millions of Indigenous Peoples of the archipelago. Moreover, it has great potential to criminalize members of Indigenous Peoples whose lives heavily depend on forests.
- To accelerate the discussion and legalization of RUU Masyarakat Adat, but it must be openly discussed with Indigenous Peoples, organizations of Indigenous Peoples, and other civil societies. RUU P2H can be discussed once a legal umbrella to protect Indigenous Peoples and their rights exists. Thus, the Acts produced by DPR RI and Government will not impinge on each other.
- To immediately revise the Act No. 41/1999 on Forestry (UUK). The revision must be based on the spirit to correct the forestry issues as well as to design a more equitable and people-oriented UUK. It means that the revision has to ensure that the forest designation, the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral domain and other issues having long been criticized by public get their respective place on the revised UUK.
Jakarta, 28 March 2013
Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN)
Abdon Nababan (Secretary-General of AMAN)
Mobile phone: 0811111365
E-mail : email@example.com
Erasmus Cahyadi (Director of Advocacy)
Mobile phone: 081386911075
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org