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Ignoring the rights of indigenous people

Tempo - March 26, 2024

Jakarta – Indigenous people are taking legal action against the President and the DPR for delaying deliberations of a bill. It has taken second place to the interests of investors.

THE lawsuit from the Indigenous Peoples' Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) should serve to urge President Joko Widodo and the House of Representatives (DPR) to speed up the passing into law of the Indigenous People Bill. The lawsuit is proof that the government and the DPR ignore the existence of indigenous people.

AMAN, together with the Nusantara Indigenous Peoples Defense Association filed a lawsuit against the President and the DPR with the Jakarta Administrative Court on October 25. The plaintiffs believe that the executive and the legislative branches have broken the law because the discussion of the Indigenous People Bill has been so protracted. The case went on to the evidence stage in court on Thursday, March 21.

This lawsuit would never have been filed if the President and the DPR had fulfilled their obligations to protect indigenous people, as mandated by the Constitution. Article 18 B paragraph 2 and Article 181 paragraph 3 of the 1945 Constitution clearly recognize the existence and rights of indigenous people. But the government has always allowed indigenous people to be sidelined, for, among other things, the interests of investors.

According to AMAN, in the last decade, 8.5 million hectares of indigenous people's lands have been taken over for investment needs. On top of that, 678 indigenous people have faced criminalization and violence over the same time period.

The latest example is the displacement of Balik indigenous people from Penajam North Paser, East Kalimantan, because of the Nusantara Capital City (IKN) project. Indigenous people have long been trying to obtain legal title to their land, but the government has ignored their requests. As well as that, on Rempang Island, Batam, Riau Islands, inhabitants of 16 villages have also been displaced by the development of the Rempang Eco-City industrial park. Using various methods, the government has forced indigenous people to leave their home villages.

These facts are further proof that the DPR and the President are not serious about handling the issue of indigenous people. Although the Indigenous People Bill has been included in the priority national legislation program three times since 2014, the DPR has never passed it into law. And the government has not even drawn up an inventory of problems, which should be the first step in deliberating the bill.

Indigenous people have faced problems obtaining recognition because the central and regional governments always pass the buck. The central and regional governments always hide behind Article 67 of the Forestry Law, which states that recognition and revocation of recognition of people bound by customary law is laid down in bylaws, which require the approval of regional legislative councils.

This article should have been revised after the Constitutional Court granted a material review of a number of articles of the Forestry Law in 2013. In its ruling, the Court recognized the existence of people bound by customary law based on their continuing presence in the areas they reside, and not on whether or not there was a provision in a bylaw.

Considering all these facts, the Administrative Court judges should rule in favor of AMAN's legal challenge. This kind of ruling would be important to push the DPR and the President to pass the Indigenous People Bill into law as soon as possible.

– Read the complete story in Tempo English Magazine

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1849768/ignoring-the-rights-of-indigenous-peopl