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YLBHI accuses government of breaking law by refusing to reveal land use data

CNN Indonesia - May 10, 2019

Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) is accusing Coordinating Minister for the Economy (Menko) Darmin Nasution of breaking the law by using his authority to restrict public access to data on land use rights (HGU).

"We believe that the Menko is abusing his authority, it is being used to violate the law", said YLBHI Advocacy Division Deputy Chairperson Era Purnamasari during a discussion held at the YLBHI offices in Jakarta on Thursday May 9.

According to Purnamasari, the public's right to access HGU data is guaranteed under law and has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court (MA).

Based on this, Purnamasari says that Nasution could be prosecuted if it is proven that is intentionally preventing people from obtaining HGU data which is public information by right.

"The minister could be indicted if he for example if it is reasonably suspected that he has intentionally prevented people from obtaining public information", explained Purnamasari.

The YLBHI is urging the Ombudsman to immediately investigate irregularities related to the issuance of a document stating that the government will restrict access to data and information on HGUs covering palm oil plantations.

"[The Ombudsman needs to] investigate what the rational there was for this document being written and which parties benefited from the document", said Purnamasari.

In addition to this, the YLBHI believes that Nasution's document confirms that there have been systematic efforts to conceal HGU data. Purnamasari added that they have already reported the Ministry for Agrarian Affairs and Special Planning (ATR) to the national police headquarters (Mabes Polri) over the HGU data cover up but the report has not been followed up.

"We've only just received news the other day that it turns out that the Mabes Polri has handed the case over to the Papua Polda [regional police]. We believe that this is an effort to intentionally not investigate it. Because it would be difficult for Polda to bring charges against the minister", she continued.

Purnamasari added that farmers and the victims of forced land evictions to make way for plantations covered by HGUs, particularly palm oil plantations, are still fighting to obtain the HGU data.

Earlier, the deputy for the coordination of food and agriculture at the Coordinating Ministry for Food and Agriculture, Musdalifah Machmud, sent a document to the chairperson of the Indonesian Palm Oil Board (DMSI), the chairperson of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) and the executives of companies in the palm oil sector.

In a copy of the document received by CNN Indonesia, Machmud stated that the government will restrict access to data and information on HGU covering palm oil plantations in order to protect data and information on palm oil which represents a strategic commodity for national economic resilience and in the context of the protection of Indonesia's natural wealth.

This was done as part of the government's commitment to increase the sustainability of palm oil plantations as well as to follow up on the results of a meeting between Indonesia and the European Union Commission. According to Machmud, the government needs support from all stakeholders which have an interest in palm oil.

"HGUs, for example, in America no one reveals their data. How could Indonesia be willing to reveal all the contents of our internal data", said Machmud when contacted by CNN Indonesia.

Machmud explained that the information on special planning utilisation can be accessed but detailed information on the holder's names and copies of certificates are restricted to ensure that they are not misused.

"We (Indonesia) must be firm as a follow up from the Delegated Act (European Union), we are increasingly careful about safeguarding our natural wealth", he said. (sas/DAL)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "YLBHI: Menko Darmin Nasution Melanggar Hukum Tutup Data HGU".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190510030957-20-393582/ylbhi-menko-darmin-nasution-melanggar-hukum-tutup-data-hgu