Fighting for ecological justice

Keeping Up With The Issue of Passing the Ratification of the Indigenous Peoples Bill

The House of Representatives of Indonesia still needs to pass The Indigenous Peoples Bill. However, the bill has been in the national legislative program since 2009. Therefore, to keep up with the issue of passing the Indigenous Peoples Bill, Kaoem Telapak held a public discussion that brought all stakeholders together.

The discussion held in Jakarta on 2 April 2024 carried the theme “Overseeing Advocacy for the Indigenous Peoples Bill: Fulfilling the Promise of the Indonesian Government: Immediately Turning the Indigenous Peoples Bill into Law”.

The Discussion

In opening the discussion, Mardi Minangsari, President of Kaoem Telapak, highlighted how Indonesia’s constitution included the rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, the public still needs to pay more attention to the rights of Indigenous Peoples. “There are many cases where Indigenous Peoples experience injustice and have their ancestral territories confiscated. The situation is far from the constitutional mandate,” She said.

Kaoem Telapak invited two speakers to spark the discussion in this discussion activity. The first resource person came from a government representative, Sjamsul Hadi, Director of Belief in Almighty God and Indigenous Peoples, Directorate General of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology. Meanwhile, the second resource person came from the Association of Lawyers for Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, Syamsul Alam Agus.

Mardi Minangsari, the President of Kaoem Telapak

Sjamsul Hadi, in his presentation, admitted how long it takes for the DPR to pass the Indigenous Peoples Bill. Hadi said the Indigenous Peoples Bill is still in the DPR until now. Nevertheless, Hadi said that the Directorate would make various efforts to accelerate the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. One way is to prepare a Draft Presidential Regulation. “If the Presidential Regulation is out, the efforts to accelerate and recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples would not get stuck,” said Hadi.

Meanwhile, Syamsul Alam Agus emphasized that efforts to recognize, protect, and fulfil the rights of Indigenous Peoples as mandated by the constitution are through the passing of laws, not circulars, regent decrees, or regional regulations. He gave an example of what happened in the field, the experience of Mikael Ane, an Indigenous Community from Ruteng, East Nusa Tenggara. The Court punished Mikael Ane for about one year and six months in jail for occupying and managing his ancestral land, which the State claimed as the Ruteng Nature Tourism Park. Even though the Ruteng area already has regional regulations that recognize the existence of Indigenous Peoples. Mikael Ane was criminalized using the Forestry Law. “So, regional regulations alone are not enough,” said Alam.

Sjamsul Hadi (left) and Syamsul Alam Agus (right)

After the two speakers finished their presentations, Luluk Nur Hamidah, a Member of the Indonesian House of Representatives from the National Awakening Faction, gave a response. Starting her response, Luluk emphasized that the issue of Indigenous Peoples is an issue for all of us. The DPR Legislative Body has finished the Discussion of the Indigenous Peoples Bill in 2020. However, it has not been brought to the plenary session, so people cannot claim the bill as a DPR initiative. So, the Indigenous Peoples Bill is still in the hands of the DPR Chairpersonship. “If the plenary has not decided on the bill’s status, the DPR cannot send a letter to the government. “The Chairperson of DPR is the one who sends the letter,” said Luluk.

Luluk also emphasized that every law is a political product, so we cannot separate it from political contestation. Luluk suspects that many parties in the DPR think that the Indigenous Peoples Bill could hinder investment, especially from corporations whose activities intersect with the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples, for example, plantation and mining corporations.

Luluk Nur Hamidah (right)

For Luluk, human rights and ecological justice are the foundations of investment activities. She also emphasized the importance of the Indigenous Peoples Bill: “The bill is important to ensure that the entity and presence of Indigenous Peoples is recognized, protected and has its rights fulfilled. “Apart from that, it provides great benefits related to preserving forests, culture, including humans, which is also important,” She concluded.


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