According to a recent press report, the nine main Indonesian government agencies concerned with lands and forests have declared their support for indigenous peoples’ rights. The Declaration was issued jointly on 1st September 2014 by the Coordinating Ministry of People’s Welfare, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of the Environment, National Land Agency (BPN), the National Geospatial Information Agency, National Commission on Human Rights, and the national REDD+ Agency.
The announcement was welcomed by the national indigenous peoples’ organisation, AMAN, which noted the need for legal reforms to secure their rights and efforts by indigenous peoples’ themselves to build their capacity to manage their lands and forests in line with local wisdom.
This official Declaration provides a helpful starting point for the incoming President of Indonesia, who is due to take office in October. It builds on recent rulings in the Constitutional Court which have recognised the unconstitutionality of elements of the forestry law which deny indigenous peoples’ rights and on a promise last year by the outgoing President to recognise indigenous peoples’ rights. Campaigns for legal reforms to recognise indigenous peoples’ rights date back to the 1980s and gained strength after the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, which allowed for a flourishing of civil society organisations and the setting up of AMAN.
Monday September 1st, 2014
Jakarta, Ekuatorial – Nine ministries and institutions officially declared their support for indigenous people’s recognition and protection, in Jakarta, on Monday (1/9).
The National Programme for the Recognition and Protection of Customary Communities through REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest and Peat-land Degradation) was launched in the present of Indonesia’s Vice President, Boediono.
The program was supported by Coordinating Ministry of People’s Welfare, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of the Environment, National Land Agency, the National Geospatial Information Agency, National Commission on Human Rights, and REDD+ Agency.
“The declaration is an important step in our fight to put indigenous people’s roles and positions into the national system of Republic of Indonesia. There were partial efforts done by ministries and institutions but it is important to coordinate all of those efforts to be more efficient and systematic,” said Boediono in his speech as quoted in the press release.
Boediono, who goes by one name, said that the national program was expected as it has brought all related ministries in the efforts to recognize and protect indigenous people. The aim of the national program is to give legal standing, institutional capacity building, and working framework guidance in the implementation of REDD+ in Indonesia. In addition, the program will also be reviewing regulations related to forest conservation and indigenous people, set up a trust fund for indigenous people, and support regional governments in the efforts to acknowledge indigenous people’s existence.
Abdon Nababan, secretary general of AMAN (Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago), said that the national program is a fresh tipping point for indigenous people in fighting for their rights. “We appreciate the government’s efforts who has been consistent in establishing legal grounds for indigenous people. It [the national program] serves as a reflection for them [indigenous people] to increase their capacity building in natural resources management in accordance to local wisdom,” said Nababan.
Meanwhile, Heru Prasetyo, head of REDD+ agency in Indonesia, said that indigenous people was the main stakeholder of REDD+ implementation in the country. “[The] full participation of indigenous people will support Indonesia’s commitment in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, — 26 percent by its own and 41 percent with international help by 2020 –,” said Prasetyo. Furthermore, he said that Indonesia has become an international spotlight through REDD+ implementation which must ensure human rights issues alongside sustainable development.
Fidelis E. Satriastanti