MAC: Mines and Communities

Ngo Coalition Will Take Legal Action On Parliament's Endorsement Of Government Decreee No/1/2004

Published by MAC on 2004-07-24

NGO coalition will take legal action on Parliament's endorsement of government decreee No/1/2004

24th July 2004

Jakarta ­ The NGO Coalition against mining in protected areas will take legal action after Parliament yesterday endorsed the Government decree to amend a law (Perpu) No. 1/2004.

The parliamentary endorsement of the Perpu decree was not unexpected given the degree of political intrigue around the substance and process of issuance of the decree. Up until the day before yesterday's endorsement, the working committee and special committee which were established to assess the Perpu decree were deadlocked, unable to reach a unanimous decision to endorse or reject the perpu. The uncertainty of parliamentarians when asked to make a decision raised big questions and suspicions of hidden motives. This despite the fact that various people, including numerous experts in national and international law gave evidence to the parliamentary committees that there was no need to fear international arbitration before the Perpu amendment. Legal expert Todung Mulya Lubis gave evidence during parliamentary committee hearings that it was not the ban on open-pit mining in protected forests, but actually the Perpu decree and the subsequent Presidential decree which opened the door not only to international arbitration threats, but to the possibility of the Indonesian government being accused via World Trade Organisation of discrimination against certain foreign companies operating in Indonesia.

"The threat of international arbitration must not become a spectre instilling fear in parliament over the ban on open-pit mining in protected forests. The Indonesian government should follow the example of the Costa Rican government which had the courage to face off the threat of international arbitration by foreign companies, for the sake of protecting forests and thus defending the interests of the community and environment," insisted Longgena Ginting, National Executive Director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, WALHI.

"The endorsement of this Perpu is a bad precedent for the shape of legal reform in Indonesia. The vehicle of perpu decrees can be easily misused by the President to legalise policies which only benefit a few and for momentary political expediency," said Indro Sugianto, Executive Director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law.

Presidential Decree No.42/2004 which flowed from Perpu No.1/2004 has provided political justification for 13 mining companies to operate in protected forests. This is the point of entry for a process of destruction in the days to come. Inevitably, the other 145 mining companies which were not named in the presidential decree won't remain silent. They will demand the same dispensation from the government. This spells disaster for 11.5 million hectares of protected areas claimed as mining concessions.

Conflict and ecological destruction will be ongoing at the mining sites newly licensed by the government. And this will worsen suffering for local communities whose livelihoods depend on forests," concluded Siti Maimunah, National Coordinator of the Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network, JATAM.

To restore Indonesian legal standards, the NGO Coalition will take legal action relating to the Perpu decree. This legal action will not be restricted to the Perpu, but will extend to legal action regarding PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals (owned by Newcrest Mining of Australia) which commenced open-pit mining in the Toguraci Protected Forest, after the 1999 Forestry Law ban but well before the Perpu decree and presidential decree. PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals clearly broke the law, especially clause 38(4) of Forestry Law No.41/1999 which explicitly prohibits open-pit mining in protected forests.

The NGO Coalition also calls on all levels of the community, both at the mining sites and in the wider public which will experience the impacts of environment disasters resulting from forest destruction, to closely examine the policies which have recently been taken by this government and which have the potential for great losses for the community.

Contact persons:

Longgena Ginting, WALHI: + 62 811 927 038
Indro Sugianto, ICEL: +62 815 943 4228
Siti Maimunah, JATAM: +62 911 920 462

NGO Coalition against mining in protected areas:

WALHI, JATAM, WWF Indonesia, Yayasan Pelangi, Greenomics Indonesia, Yayasan Kehati, Pokja Pembaruan Agraria dan Pengelolaan Suberdaya Alam, Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) Tim Advokasi Tambang Rakyat (TATR), ICEL, Jaring Pela, Mineral Policy Institute (MPI)

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