Constitutional Court Agrees on Judicial Review of UUK

Jakarta, 16 May 2013 – Constitutional Court has accepted the Judicial Review of some parts of Act No. 41/1999 on Forestry (Undang-Undang Kehutanan or UUK) submitted by the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Thursday (16/5).

Although the Court didn’t agree on all requested reviews, AMAN warmly welcomes the decision announced in Plenary Hall of Constitutional Court. This ruling means that the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago are legal subjects and customary forests are not State forests. Hence Indigenous Peoples will get back their rights over their customary forests seized by the State through UUK.

“AMAN submitted the judicial review in March 2012 and its series of sessions ended in June. Good things come to those who wait. About 40 millions Indigenous Peoples now are rightful over our customary forests because the State has become unable to expel us out of our customary forests that have become our source of livelihood from generation to generation,” said Secretary-General of AMAN Abdon Nababan.

AMAN perceives that the UUK was deliberately legalized to take over customary forests and give them to capital owners through various license schemes. These so-called legal seizures practically happen on all around Indonesia.

The exploitation of customary forests has been proven threatening to the sustainability of Indigenous Peoples and damaging environment. Both the Ministry of Forestry and Statistics Indonesia (BPS) show that there are 31,957 interacting with forests and 71.06 percent of them heavily depend on forest resources.

UUK is not the only Act violating Indigenous Peoples’ rights over their customary forests. Last month the House of Representatives secretly discussed the Draft Act on Eradication of Deforestation (RUU P2H) potentially criminalizing Indigenous Peoples whose livelihoods heavily depending on forests.

“Holding onto Constitutional Court’s ruling today, AMAN will keep fighting for Indigenous Peoples to get back our rights over our customary forests that have become our source of livelihood from generation to generation,” added Abdon Nababan.