Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Indonesia Threatened By State  and Company

Press Release

Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Indonesia Threatened By State  and Company


In recent times, the problem of safety and security for The Environmental Human Rights Defenders (EHRD) has become one of the issues most widely discussed among civil society, especially those who pay attention to environmental, ecological and economic, social, and cultural rights issues. The cause is the occurrence of several cases of violence and threats of violence that beset The EHRDs in various regions. These cases varied, ranging from the arrest, detention, conviction or criminalisation, to murder. The arrest and the imprisonment of 7 students and residents of Sukoharjo District who rejected the existence of environmental destroyer company on 4 March 2018 and 14 March 2018 and the killing of Poroduka, a youth member of an indigenous community in Wes Sumba District on 26 April 2018 is an example.

The variety of cases then raises two critical questions in civil society. First, regarding the protection of The EHRDs. The Article 66 Environmental Law which has been the legal basis to protect the security and safety of The EHRDs has limitations only on protection in the juridical aspects. In the meantime, whilst pushing on Article 66 of the Environmental Law to be more effective to prevent the prosecution of The EHRDs, there needs to be another breakthrough to protect them from violence and other threats of violence outside of imprisonment attempt.

Second, adhering to the actual situation faced by The EHRDs, which starts from the discussion about the security and safety of The EHRDs, has emerged among civil society, it is difficult to find measurable data that can be used to strengthen arguments about the obligation to protect The EHRDs to either the state or non-state stakeholders, especially companies. Both of them are often considered to be most responsible for all situations that afflict the EHRDs. The questions about the typology of acts and threats of violence that beset The EHRDs, who are the actors involved in the actions, and the extent to which human rights violations occur and the losses resulting from all these actions almost always face the haze. Ultimately, this makes an effort to advance the debate on the safety and security of The EHRDs into litigation practices, and risky non-litigation hampered.

The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) conducts media research by monitoring and analysing electronic mass media publications and press releases at local and national NGOs in Indonesia in November 2017-July 2018 to uncover the haze of puzzles that cover the situation facing The EHRDs. Through a report entitled “Under the Shadow of The State’s and Company’s Violence: Situation Report of  The Environmental Human Rights Defenders for November 2017-July 2018”, ELSAM succeeded in mapping the actual situation of The EHRDS in Indonesia while identifying human rights violations that were attached to and accompanied them.

The report found that within nine months, there were 254 victims of the act and threats of violence that beset The EHRDs.  As much as 70% of that number, namely 175 people, are individual victims. The family became the second largest victim. A total of 71 (28%) families lost their homes and expelled from their living space. Also that, there are seven indigenous people and two community members in the village or village unit who are victims, e.g. the indigenous community of Bukit Karandayan in East Kalimantan and the residents of Kampung Polgar in West Jakarta.

The report also elaborates on the complexity of human rights violations that are inherent and accompany the acts and threats of violence against The EHRDs. There are seven rights inherent in human rights violated seriously due to acts and threats of violence against the EHRDS including violations of personal integrity, the right to freedom, the right to move, the right to residence, the right to life, the women’s rights and the children’s rights. The presence of the rights of women and children in this report is special because 10% (17 people) of the total number of The EHRDs’s victims are women farmers and indigenous people who lose living space and livelihood. Still, the intimidation practices carried out on children in areas of violence against The EHRDs.

Through the report, ELSAM argues that the state and company are vital actors in all acts and the threats of violence against during November 2017-July 2018. As many as 88% of the violent actors in this report are state actors consisting of the police, TNI, Attorney General’s Office, state officials, courts, Badan Otorita (Authority Body), Forest Police, and Satpol PP. The same thing happened to the company. Of the 36 cases that occurred throughout this period, there were 33 names of companies involved in 33 cases.

The EHRDs are in a difficult situation and have an impact on various serious human rights violations because of the actions of the two actors. It also makes the EHRDs get a large amount of material and non-material losses. Therefore, the state and company as the most dominant actors in cases of violence and threats of violence that beset The EHRDs have the greatest responsibility and obligation in resolving the case and ensuring the protection and fulfilment of the rights of the HRD on the Environment. As stipulated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (principle 19, principle 20, principle 21, principle 25, principle 26, and principle 27), the company should respect human rights in its activities and is responsible for the recovery process human rights violated by business activities. In the same principle, there is a rule that the state should protect and guarantee the establishment of human rights by “ensuring the effectiveness of the domestic legal mechanism” to address human rights violations in business (principle 26). Also, the state is also responsible for restoring rights violated in the business by “providing a mechanism for non-legal complaints” in addition to the legal mechanism (principle 27).

Therefore, ELSAM urges the Indonesian government to strengthen the EHRDs’s protection from the violation of human rights. This gesture has required the issue of supporting regulations for Environmental Law, especially article 66 to ensure the protection of The EHRDs. Ultimately, ELSAM would like to remind the Indonesian government to ensure the judicial and non-judicial recovery process of The EHRDs rights by state and companies immediately. Moreover, the effort to ensure the EHRDs’s security and the fulfilment of the judicial and non-judicial recovery process of the EHRDs rights will be the stage for the government to prove their commitment to human rights enforcement.

Jakarta, 24 September 2018

For further information, please reach Andi Muttaqien (Deputy Director of Advocacy, phone: +628121996984  or Muhammad Azka Fahriza (Researcher),  phone:   +6282124041688.

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