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Indonesian government urged to pass bill on indigenous people’s rights

March 24, 2014

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Sun, March 23 2014, 4:39 PM

The Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) has called for the immediate ratification of the indigenous people’s rights acknowledgment and protection bill, so the well-being and sustainable livelihoods of indigenous people can be protected.

“We urge the Indonesian government to immediately implement the Constitutional Court and House of Representatives’ decisions to pass a bill on the acknowledgment and protection of indigenous people’s rights,” AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan said in a statement in Jakarta on Sunday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

He reminded that the 2012 court verdict had a crucial role to play in indigenous people’s struggle as it stated that customary forests did no longer belong to the state.

“Previously, customary forests were considered as state forests, paving the way for the expropriation of land and natural resources, including customary forests, belonging to indigenous people,” said Abdon.

Unfortunately, he added, many policies contradicted the court’s verdict, giving the sense that some efforts were aimed at delaying the bill and ultimately overturning it.

AMAN’s deputy secretary-general for advocacy on policy, legal and political affairs, Rukka Sombolinggi, said that with slow progress being made on the ratification of the bill, conflict continued in areas that should be categorized as customary forests.

“One year after the court verdict was issued, indigenous communities in Indonesia continued to suffer land and natural resource-based conflicts,” said Rukka.

Community and Ecological-based Society for Legal Reform (HuMa) executive director Andiko, said the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) program should support the implementation of laws that were conducive to fulfilling the rights of indigenous people and local communities, including the 2012 court verdict on the status of customary forests.

“This should also help the resolution of hundreds of ongoing forest conflicts,” said Andiko. (ebf)

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