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Jakarta Post

House blasted for abandoning indigenous rights bill

  • Nurul Fitri Ramadhani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, January 25, 2016   /  05:07 pm

The Alliance of Indigenous People (AMAN) has criticized the House of Representatives for not listing the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous people (PPHMA) bill on the priority list of bills under the 2016 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas).

The PPHMA bill, proposed by the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), will cover, among other things, the definition of an indigenous community, their rights, a much-needed procedure to settle customary land disputes and a task force that will handle the matter of indigenous people at the central and regional levels.

'€œPostponing the ratification of the bill means ignoring the mandate of the Constitution and letting 70 million indigenous people in the country continue to lose their rights with no legal protections,'€ AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan said on Sunday.

If the House and the government kept ignoring the draft bill, he said, indigenous people would face more human rights abuse, not to mention the widespread destruction of forests. '€œAll of which has had a negative impact on their lives,'€ Abdon said.

The fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples has become one of the country'€™s biggest challenges in recent years. Jambi'€™s nomadic Anak Dalam tribe, also known as Orang Rimba, for example, have seen their rights ignored and violated.

The tribe, which is spiritually and culturally bound to their landscape, traditionally lives in the forests of Sumatra, but has been gradually pushed out of late by the expansion of oil palm plantations and Industrial Plantation Forests (HTI). This industry cuts down the entire forest and then replants it with trees to make paper.

As a result, the indigenous people who live off the forest have experienced food crises that have led to health vulnerabilities.

According to Abdon, the crisis threatening the Anak Dalam tribe is an example of the problems characterizing indigenous communities in Indonesia.

He said that such a bill, therefore, was urgently needed to reduce criminalization against indigenous people and to reduce land conflicts caused by investment and the government'€™s infrastructure projects.

'€œThe bill could also highlight the role of indigenous people in global climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts,'€ Abdon said.

This year, the House aims to pass 41 priority bills under the 2016 Prolegnas. Among them include revisions to Law No. 30/2002 on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

House Legislation Body (Baleg) member Arsul Sani said that the House had put the PPHMA bill on a longlist for the 2015'€“2019 Prolegnas, but not on this year'€™s priority list because its draft and academic transcript had yet to be completed.

'€œWe met with the government last week and decided to pass only the bills whose academic transcripts and drafts have been completed,'€ said the United Development Party (PPP) lawmaker, who is also a member of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs and human rights.

Last year, the House listed 40 priority bills and only passed three laws: The Regional Election Law, the Regional Administration Law and the Credit Insurance Law. The failure to meet last year'€™s target was mainly due to rivalry and political maneuvering among factions.

'€œHowever, the bill still has a chance to get some space on the priority list if we revise the 2016 Prolegnas mid-year,'€ Arsul said.

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