Requisitioning the Urgency of Bill on Palm Oil

ELSAM, Jakarta – Bill on Palm Oil submitted by House of Representative (DPR) was deemed as having yet provided human rights protection and answered the palm oil issues in Indonesia. The inclusion of the Bill to the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) 2017 was considered as being yet urgent to issue and even still many ways to provide justice to the community around the palm oil plantation in Indonesia.

Therefore, the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) jointly with AURIGA and HRWG delivered a joint statement in response to the Bill on Palm Oil on Sunday, 5 February 2017 in Kopi Oey, Menteng, Jakarta. Bill on Palm Oil is not an urgent issue to be included in the Prolegnas 2017, as addressed in the discussion.

Andi Muttaqien, Deputy Director of ELSAM affirmed that there was no new offered norm found in the Bill. The formulated new regulation was even considered as blurring the efforts carried out by government this current time.

“Bill on Palm Oil did not offer new norm to answer the current palm oil issues in Indonesia. Moreover, a lot of regulations even blurred what government should carry out to improve the palm oil condition in Indonesia”, he stated.

Further, another important material delivered in the discussion was related to peatlands, conveyed by Syahrul Fitra of AURIGA. He stated that Bill on Palm Oil was obviously utilized as an instrument to clear the alreadiness or to give opportunity to the companies in order to operate in the peatland areas as interpreted in the Article 23 of the Bill. The regulation even negated the prevailing the Government Regulation (PP) No 57 Year 2016 on the Amendment of Government Regulation No 71 Year 2014 on the Protection and Management of Peatland Ecosystem.

“This is a fight against any protection of peatland recovery as regulated in PP No 71 Year 2014.  The regulation on peatland protection specified that anyone are prohibited to clear new land until the zones of protection and cultivation functions on peatland ecosystem areas are established for certain plantations. If Law on Palm Oil is issued, the prohibition will not prevail. As a result, Jokowi’s target to recover the 2,4 hectares peatland will not happen,” he said.

According to M Hafidz, Executive Director of HRWG, explained that Bill on Palm Oil will worsen the regulations related to the license to establish palm oil plantation as regulated in a number of regulations on plantation sector such as Law on Forestry, Law on Plantation, Law on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction, Law on Environment Protection and Cultivation and Basic Agrarian Law.

“The idea to integrate all regulations on plantation sector into Bill on Palm Oil does not appear in the material of the regulation. Instead, the Bill will make it more chaotic for it legalizes the criminal act in peatland. It will be contra-productive with the palm oil diplomacy, being environmentally and human rights friendly, often echoed by the government to the international level,” M. Hafidz said.

Civil society urged the government to take action to reject the further discussion of Bill on Palm Oil. The issue is that the material of the Bill did not offer new norm which can answer the palm oil problems so it will not make the Bill urgent to further be discussed. Other than the previous substantive matter, the discussion of the Bill did not involve the civil society or public. Meanwhile, public involvement becomes important to guard the regulation which is able to answer the palm oil issues occurring in Indonesia, including protecting human rights.