Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Constitutional Court ruling restores indigenous peoples' rights to their customary forests in Indonesia

16 May, 2013

In what may well prove to be a historic judgment for Indonesia's indigenous peoples, the Constitutional Court in Jakarta ruled today that the customary forests of indigenous peoples should not be classed as falling in 'State Forest Areas', paving the way for a wider recognition of indigenous peoples' rights in the archipelago. The judgment was made in response to a petition filed with the court by the national indigenous peoples' organisation AMAN (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara) some 14 months ago. AMAN had objected to the way the 1999 Forestry Act treats indigenous peoples' 'customary forests'  as providing only weak use-rights within State Forest Areas. The judgment now opens the way for a major reallocation of forests back to the indigenous peoples who have long occupied them and looked after them. The Government's own statistics revealed last year that there are some 32,000 villages whose lands overlap areas classed as 'State Forest Areas'.

Read the Constitutional Court's judgment in Bahasa Indonesia or in English

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