INDONESIA GOVERNMENT: Implement the Constutional Court’s Decision no. 35/PUU-X/2012 and Immediately adopt the Bill on Recognition and Protection the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
On 16 May, 2013, the Indonesian Constitutional Court issued a decision on the Judicial Review which was delivered by the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) and two Indigenous Communities against Law 41/1999 on Forestry. In decision No. 35/PUU-X/2012, the Constitutional Court confirmed that Customary Forests are forests located in Indigenous territories, and should no longer be considered as State Forests.
Indigenous Peoples throughout Indonesia welcomed the Constitutional Court’s decision by simultaneously placing signposts throughout Indigenous territories, which read: “Customary forests are no longer State forests. Indigenous Peoples are implementing the Constitutional Court’s Decision No. 35/PUU-X/2012”. In addition, Indigenous Peoples have also started rehabilitating their territories which have been damaged by the activities of companies who were given licenses to operate by the State.
It has been four months since the Constitutional Court’s decision. However, up until now there has been no attempt by the government to implement this decision. Instead, the Minister of Forestry issued a letter SE 1/Menhut-II/2013 on Constitutional Court’s Decision No. 35/PUU-X/2012 addressed to the Governor, the Regent/Mayor and Chief of Forestry services throughout Indonesia, which confirms that customary forests will be determined by the Ministry of Forestry. In order to do this, the Ministry of Forestry requires local governments to set up regulations to identify customary forests.
Thus, it will be a long and difficult process before Indigenous Peoples have and manage their own forests. Meanwhile, the State continues to give large tracts of forest areas to companies, meaning forest conversions for industrial activities are increasingly widespread. Thus, justice for Indigenous Peoples is continuously ignored by the State.
We assert that Indigenous Peoples have rights to their Lands, Territories and Resources, including to their customary forests. Recognition of these rights is a partial fulfillment of their inherent collective and individual human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We welcome and support the Constitutional Court’s ruling No. 35/PUU-X/2012 which reaffirms that customary forests are forests located in Indigenous territories, thus, they should no longer be considered as State forests.
We urge the Government of Indonesia to immediately implement the Constitutional Court’s ruling No. 35/PUU-X/2012 at both the national and the local level. We also demand the House of Representatives to immediately adopt the Bill on Recognition and Protection the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I fully support all efforts of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) in collaboration with civil society, to ensure the fulfillment of the Constitutional Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia to their customary forests.