The international meeting of South East Asian Regional Human Rights Commissions on ‘Human Rights and Business: Plural Legal Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Institutional Strengthening and Legal Reform’ hosted by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (KOMNASHAM), in conjunction with Sawit Watch and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) was held in Bali, Indonesia, from 28th November to 1st December 2011.
PRESS INFORMATION – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A landmark workshop, “Human Rights and Business: Plural Legal Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Institutional Strengthening and Legal Reform”, is taking place at the Santika Hotel, Kuta, Bali, from today until 1 December 2011, convened by the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and supporting NGOs SawitWatch and Forest Peoples Programme. The event will be attended by over 60 participants, from the National Human Rights Commissions of the Southeast Asian region, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission, notable academics, representatives of indigenous peoples, as well as members of supportive national and international NGOs.
Nur Kholis, Deputy Chairperson of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), said,
“We are taking this initiative in collaboration with the other human rights commissioners of South East Asia as a way of ensuring a more balanced approach to development based on respect for peoples’ rights, with an emphasis on the need to secure livelihoods and the right to food.”
Scale Up, an Indonesian partner of Forest Peoples Programme, has been monitoring the evolution of social conflict in Indonesian oil palm plantations over recent years. Studies on conflict over natural resources in Riau province conducted by this partner over the last four years have shown a trend towards an increase in frequency and extent of disputed land each year, with a slight decline in 2010. Based on Scale Up’s annual report of 2007, 111,745 hectares of land in the Riau area were subject to conflicting claims to natural resources, an area which increased to 200,586 hectares in 2008 and to 345,619 hectares in 2009. In 2010, the disputed land area decreased slightly to 342,571 hectares, compared to 2009. This was largely due to the fact that a large number of disputed areas and ensuing conflicts in that year were not identified or documented.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, S. James Anaya, visited Costa Rica on an official mission from 24-27 April 2011. His visit responds to an Urgent Request made by Forest Peoples Programme’s (FPP) partners in Costa Rica: Kus Kura S.C. and a number of Térraba indigenous peoples’ organisations.
The Urgent Request highlighted critical issues that the Térraba people are facing in their traditional lands, including: first, the denial of their territorial rights, and the massive encroachment on their lands by non-indigenous persons; second, the threat of irreparable harm caused by the proposed Diquís Dam that will permanently flood 10 percent of the Térraba lands (this will also affect other indigenous peoples as seven different indigenous territories are within the Térraba River basin); and third, the absence of effective judicial remedies to address the imposition of political-administrative structures in each territory (primarily local government bodies that are not fully accountable to indigenous peoples and are not their preferred form of political organisation).
The land rights of indigenous peoples and human rights of minority communities were discussed in Kampala, Uganda on 4th March 2011 during the first East Africa Regional Dialogue on Minority Community Rights. The event came as a result of the collaboration of many national and international organisations including the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda, Forest Peoples Programme, Minority Rights Group International, Institute for Law & Environmental Governance, Uganda Land Alliance and Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment. The dialogue was attended by representatives of indigenous peoples and minority communities from throughout the East African region as well as government and civil society organisations from Uganda and Kenya. Honoured guests included the Minister of State for Gender and Culture from Uganda and the Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, former Commissioner of the African Commission Bahame Tom Nyanduga, representatives from the African Commission’s Working Group of Experts on Indigenous Populations/Communities, as well as indigenous leaders from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
Lands held and managed under custom in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are regularly quoted as covering the vast majority of the country’s land mass, 97% is the usually accepted figure. The remaining 3% of lands, no longer governed by tradition and custom, are referred to as ‘alienated lands’ and come under the management of the Department of Lands and Physical Planning. However these remarkable figures of land tenure security hide a grimmer truth. Over the past 13 months alone almost 10% of the land mass of Papua New Guinea has been issued out as concessions under an arrangement known as ‘Special Agricultural and Business Leases’ (SABL). Under these lease agreements, the government leases customary lands from traditional owners and re-leases the same lands, often to a third party, with customary rights to the lands suspended for the term of the lease.
On 6 June 2000 the Chepkitale moorlands (the Kenyan side of Mount Elgon) were gazetted: the grazing lands and forests where the Ogiek have lived since time immemorial were turned into a game reserve without consulting the Ogiek. They were then forced to abandon their hills, forest, honey, cattle and transhumance and made to live on tiny 2.5 acre land parcels down in the lowlands. Here, dominant neighbouring peoples were given land around them. Whipped up by politicians in the run up to the 2007 elections, these people formed an armed militia gang, the SLDF (Sabaot Land Defence Force), who raped and murdered the Ogiek until they fled back up into the Chepkitale Highlands.
This document contains Volume IV of the series of compilations of United Nations human rights bodies’ jurisprudence pertaining to indigenous peoples and covers the years 2009 and 2010. It includes all of the UN treaty bodies and the recommendations of the Human Rights Council's Universal Peer Review mechanism.
Also see Volume I: 1993-2004, Volume II: 2005-2006, Volume III: 2007-2008 and Volume V: 2011-2012 under related reports.