Law on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction (UU P3H): criminalising the public under the pretext of protecting forests

Press Release

THE COALITION Against Anti-Timber Mafia

[Jakarta, 12 October 2014] – The Constitutional Court, on Tuesday, 14 October 2014, will be holding its first session (preliminary examination) on the case of Review of Law No. 18 of 2013 on the Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction, which has been filed by a group of community members.

The law has been regarded to stifle farmers, local community members and indigenous communities. This regulation is not a solution to the issue being regulated, namely to prevent massive, transnational and elaborate deforestation, that threatens the livelihood of community members, as has been stated in the consideration of the law.

Despite the intent of criminalising perpetrators of massive deforestation, the criminal sanctions are mostly directed towards farmers, local community members and indigenous communities, as stipulated in Articles 82, 83, 84 passim from the law. This has violated the constitutional rights of citizens. In fact, in Article 11 (4) of the Law, community members who live around or in the forest areas are obliged to obtain permits if they intend to cut wood, even to fulfill their own needs.

The law has been used in the criminalisation of four community members of Semende Banding Agung in Talang Cemara, Dusun Lama Banding Agung, Merpas village, Kaur regency in Bengkulu. In Kenongo village in Lumajang, East Java, the law was in fact used by Perum Perhutani to threaten villagers, who intend to develop their village by building a road.

Up to August 2014, the government has only finished the determination of forest areas at 69,758,922.38 hectares, or only 56.9% of the expected 122,404,872.67 hectares. The slow process has resulted in legal uncertainty related to the status of ownership and control of the plots appointed by the government. As a result of the status uncertainty, there is a likelihood that the Law will be misused by the apparatus, as the articles related to criminalised acts by individuals in the law are full of legal uncertainty.

Thus, in order to guarantee the fulfillment and protection of the constitutional rights of indigenous communities, local communities and villagers in and around forest areas, the Coalition Against Anti-Timber Mafia demands that the Constitutional Court revoke the Law of Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction in its entirety.