Fighting for ecological justice

There needs to be an Evaluation Mechanism on the Impact of the Local Regulation on Indigenous Peoples

The Sixth AMAN (KMAN VI) Congress has been held on 24th – 30th October 2022 in Jayapura. It is a five-year event for indigenous communities and members of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN). Indigenous Peoples from various regions sent representatives to join. KMAN is a mechanism for reflecting and consolidating organizations towards a guided Indigenous Peoples (MA) movement. Around 1500 participants representing Indigenous Peoples gathered. Not only indigenous peoples, but there are also representatives of the Government, both Ministries or institutions, CSOs, and the media, participating in the series of congress events.

The opening dancer in KMAN VI

Kaoem Telapak (KT) is one of the organizers of the workshop, which is a part of the KMAN event. The workshop (Sarasehan) is an arena to gather ideas and efforts to find solutions to the problems of indigenous peoples in Indonesia. KT participated in Workshop 6 (Sarasehan 6) with the theme Strengthening the Role of Government and Local Government in Implementing the Constitutional Mandate to Respect and Protect the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There are two objectives of this workshop. First, to identify breakthrough policies, strategies, and programs in recognizing and protecting indigenous peoples in Indonesia. Second, to identify obstacles to the operationalization of the policy process related to the recognition of indigenous peoples, which include tenure rights and traditional rights, as well as ancestral domain and the authority of indigenous peoples to manage and utilize their natural resources.

According to the Indigenous Territory Registration Agency (BRWA), in 2022, only 77 districts in 24 Indonesian provinces have issued regional policies on procedures for recognizing Indigenous Peoples. However, only 15 per cent or 3 million hectares of the ancestral domain has been recognized by the Regional Government, from the 20.4 million hectares of indigenous domain mapped by the community. The slow process of recognizing indigenous territories is one of the obstacles that this congress wants to examine. The need for a holistic legal umbrella on indigenous peoples (the Indigenous Peoples Bill) is another sub-discussion.

The Workshop 6

Workshop 6 was held in Yokiwa Village, East Sentani District and was attended by more than 200 representatives of Indigenous Peoples from various corners of the archipelago. In addition, Workshop 6 was also filled with speakers from various backgrounds, such as the Regent (Bupati) of Jayapura, Representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), Representatives of the Government of West Papua Province, Civil Society Groups and Academics.

Progressive Discussion

Kasmita Widodo from BRWA acted as a moderator and opened the workshop with presentations from speakers. The Regent of Jayapura, Mathius Awoitauw, started the presentation by showing the various achievements of Indigenous Peoples in the Jayapura Regency. One of the achievements is how solid the Indigenous Peoples fight against corporations that threaten the sustainability of forests in Papua.

The discussion was continued by the Representative of West Papua Province, Dr Henrikus Renjaan, SH. L.LM, CLA who explained the obstacles or barriers to the recognition, protection, and empowerment of indigenous peoples in West Papua Province. According to him, the commitment of governors and regents or mayors in supporting the program to accelerate the recognition of indigenous peoples can be carried out through adequate and targeted budget planning. In addition, the collaboration and synergy of the provincial or district-city governments in utilizing the human resources of development partners, could also accelerate the recognition of Indigenous Peoples in West Papua.

The discussion then leads to an analysis of how the process of recognizing customary forests in Indonesia. KLHK represented by Ir. Muhammad Said, MM, explained the government’s achievements in customary forests. There have been 105 decrees (SK) for the determination of customary forests that have been issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry from 2016 to 2022, covering an area of ​​148,488 hectares. This customary forest that has been designated reaches 47 thousand heads of families in almost 17 provinces.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry also describes the many rules related to the determination of customary forests as well as those related to the recognition of indigenous peoples. According to him, this is due to the slowness of the law that regulates indigenous peoples comprehensively. The slow response to regulations by the respective ministries is to fill the legal vacuum. Thus, in the end, local regulations, even though they go through a political process, become one of the paths that can be achieved as the legal basis for indigenous peoples to be recognized.

The discussion on Workshop 6

After government representatives, civil society groups and academics participated in presenting material related to the theme of the workshop. Academics were represented by Bivitri Susanti from STHI Jentera. He reviewed the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and underlined several important points, especially the challenges of local legislation (perda). First, often regulation is very close to the interests of investors. Second, many local regulations on the recognition and protection of MA are not operational. This is suspected because generally, local regulations are still abstract or only contain definitions. Then it is only declarative so it is difficult to operationalize.

Besides Bivitri, the Secretary General of KPA, Dewi Kartika also contributed ideas, especially in discussing the current position of agrarian reform and the conditions of agrarian conflicts that occurred in Indigenous Peoples. According to him, the limited administrative space for recognizing and strengthening rights is one of the challenges for Indigenous Peoples. In addition, a moratorium on rights and permits for business entities needs to be carried out in addition to restoring the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their customary lands. Encouraging bottom-up Indigenous Peoples agrarian reform models need to be done as one of the initiatives.

When the presentation was over, participants conducted a second discussion panel with an interactive discussion format about the problems of each representative or region. Each region conveys the factual conditions of its customary territory. Representatives from the Kinipan Indigenous Peoples, for example, shared how they had struggled for years to fight for their customary territories and asked for recognition. However, until now it is difficult to get a confession status, in addition to terror or acts of criminalization that continue to take place. In addition to the existing feud, the participants also conveyed how the existing regulations (perda) have not had direct implications for the welfare of the community. This can be seen from the indications of welfare and poverty in their customary areas.

Recommendation from the Workshop
After the presentation and interactive discussion, the committee collected all the important points and then summarized them into recommendations. One of the recommendations outlined in this workshop is the need for a mechanism for evaluating the impact of the Regional Regulation on the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples so that its implementation is beneficial and well-targeted for indigenous peoples, in terms of economic, social and environmental impacts.

Not only that, but practical law schools are also an important reference in the recommendations of Workshop 6. Indigenous peoples are required to at least defend themselves and their groups so that law schools become vital in the future. The results of the workshop recommendations become one of the references or basis for AMAN in determining the work program for the next five years.


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