"Evil" Agreement between Indonesian government and NewmontPublished by MAC on 2006-02-17
"Evil" Agreement between Indonesian government and Newmont
by Jatam and Walhi
17th February 2006
Jakarta. After a closed and prolonged trial, a scenario behind the negotiation between Indonesian Government and PT Newmont Minahasa Raya over the civil case of environmental pollution in Buyat Bay, North Sulawesi, was finally revealed. Newmont and the government have just announced a $30million 'evil agreement' obliging the government to drop the civil lawsuit worth US$ 135 million in the South Jakarta Court.
There are four reasons why the agreement should be considered evil.
First, the compensation payment made by Newmont to the government obviously shifts the main issue which is the prosecution of environmental violation crime, into an ordinary tit for tat compensation issue. The government has disregarded its main duty to protect the people who have been victimized with the contamination done by the company. Other than continuing to prosecute the culprit to the court trial, the government ironically made compromises that weaken the country's position against the corporation.
Second, the fund, which accounted just one fourth of the total amount demanded in the civil suit by the Ministry of Environment was used to finance the Community Development and environmental rehabilitation of Buyat Pante1 , while Community Development is supposed to be an obligation that the company must automatically undertake, even if there weren't any legal issues. So actually the government got nothing from the agreement. Questions should be raised over credibility and integrity of governmental representatives who did the negotiation and were easily deceived by Newmont. It is worth suspecting that there is a certain deal involving individuals and not the country.
Third, there has been an effort to misrepresent the the plan to assemble an expert team from both parties to prove the pollution in Buyat Bay. Approving this option would mean that the government is being inconsistent to its previous stance, knowing that the Joint Team of the Ministry of Environment has, in November 2004, announced that the sediment and biodiversity of Buyat Bay was severely contaminated.
Therefore, it is a clear win for Newmont to be able to force the government to revise it. As can be expected, the team will work closedly and resort to any ways to thoroughly discard the facts that Newmont is contaminating Buyat Bay.
Fourth, government has lied to public when it stated that the agreement it made with Newmont is under the effort to prioritize the needs of people and environment. The fact is, 66 families of Buyat Bay, victimized by Newmont's mining, had not been taken care of properly until they moved to a new residential area in Duminanga, while the criminal case of the problem has yet to be handled seriously.
The aforementioned facts show that there is no progress, since the era of the "new order" regime, in the way the Indonesian government is handling environmental crime as well as human rights issues involving large scale mining corporations. The government has always taken, and continues to take, the corporations' wishes as its command.
Adi Widhianto (JATAM) 081511655911 Torry Kuswardhono (WALHI) 0811383270