Responding to the Failure of the House of Representatives and Government to Enact The Bill on the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, 2009-2014

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Jakarta, 04/10/2014. The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) strongly condemns the failure of the House of Representatives and the Government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to enact the Draft Law on the Recognition and Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (PPHMHA Bill).

This failure is a continued denial of the rights of indigenous peoples through inaction, and encourages the deepening of already serious oppression and violations of the rights of indigenous peoples across Indonesia.

The House of Representatives’ Special Committee designated to discuss and oversee the PPHMHA Bill has cited the Ministry of Forestry as the main cause of continued deadlock. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued a Presidential Mandate in July 2013, appointing four ministries to discuss the PPHMHA Bill, along with the House of Representatives’ Special Committee. The four ministries designated include the Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The Ministry of Forestry was further appointed the Chairman of the Government Team for the PPHMHA Bill.

Decision-making to move the bill forward failed because of the lack of commitment displayed by the Ministry of Forestry, designated to by the Government to lead the process. Indeed, every meeting on the PPMHA Bill was marked by the notable absence of officials with decision-making authority from the Ministry of Forestry. As per the Rules of the House, the results of an Act must be undertaken with the relevant Minister or the Director General of the relevant ministry at minimum.

Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of AMAN, stated that halting the enactment of the PPHMHA Bill was a deliberate tactic of the Ministry of Forestry as Chairman of the Government team.

“The Ministry of Forestry is the most problematic ministry for indigenous peoples. In recent years, various conflicts have occurred in indigenous territories and customary forest, and all of these relate to the Ministry of Forestry.”

The problematic role of the Ministry of Forestry is recognized by recent policies that should have significantly reduced its influence. These include, amongst others, the Presidential Instruction on Moratorium Permit on Forest and the Constitutional Court Ruling No. 35 on Customary Forest. Similarly, the presence of a Memorandum of Understanding (NKB) between 12 Ministries and the Agencies, also aims to clarify and contain the role of the Ministry of Forestry over territories and forests.

But, as noted by Nababan, the “Implementation of the Constitutional Court Decision by the Ministry of Forestry to date has not been promising,” and institutional momentum for reform has been hampered by the continued concentration of power and resources in the Ministry of Forestry.

Yet evidence continues to mount on the Ministry of Forestry’s support to violating the rights of Indonesian citizens and exploiting the resources of the nation for the gain of only a few. In an ongoing public hearing conducted by the National Human Rights Commission (KOMNASHAM), various indigenous peoples have given testimony to the violence they and their communities have experienced in over 140 individual cases. These cases emerged as a result of claims by the state over indigenous territories, expropriation of land and territory by companies, destruction and expulsion by the state of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands, and the systemic criminalization of indigenous communities by forestry institutions and other state institutions. The PPHMHA Bill aimed to tackle and rectify these injustices, but the failure to enact the bill means the status quo will continue, leading to increased conflict without resolution.

“The existence of a law that recognizes and protect the rights of indigenous peoples is an important first step towards conflict resolution and conflict prevention,” says Nababan.

AMAN urges Jokowi’s Government and the new parliament to move the PPHMHA Bill forward as priority. AMAN further urges Jokowi’s Government to consider the dissolution of the Ministry of Forestry, and ensure that institutions that commit large-scale violations of the rights of the citizenry, and consistently fail to fulfill the principles of their mandate, are not granted continued impunity. ***


For more information contact:

Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of AMAN, Mobile: 0811111365, e-mail: abdon.nababan@aman.or.id

Rukka Sombolinggi, Deputy Secretary General for Advocacy, Law & Politics, Mobile: 08121060794; Email: rsombolinggi@aman.or.id

Source: http://www.aman.or.id