On November 04th, 2020, 25 Indigenous peoples, environment and human rights organisations, have submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) requesting its consideration of the situation of indigenous groups in Indonesia under the Committee’s urgent action and early warning procedures.

In a Press Release (November 11th, 2020) The Coalition stated that the report submission focuses on the passage of the Omnibus Law on Job Creation, a regressive and substantially discriminatory piece of legislation that was hastily enacted by the President of Indonesia on 3rd November 2020. The law represents one of the biggest legislative changes in the country’s history and was passed in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic without proper consultation and participation of the country’s indigenous peoples. The report can be read here: Early Warning Urgent Action Procedure Submission Indonesia

The sweeping amendment to close to 80 laws roll back already limited protections for indigenous peoples’ rights and further privilege the interests of the business community, specifically plantation companies and extractive industries. All the while, the Bill on the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples Rights has lingered in the legislature for almost a decade, indicating the deliberate preferencing of business interests over indigenous rights.

The most notable amendments proposed in the Omnibus Law include: the reintroduction of the colonial concept of terra nullius (‘nobody’s land’) where the State is able to deny the land rights of the country’s indigenous peoples through its own arbitrary definition of ‘abandoned lands’, and compulsorily acquire their lands without any free, prior or informed consent and without fair and just compensation.

The Law on Job Creation has the potential for criminalization of indigenous traditional practices while reducing penalties for corporate actors to mere administrative sanctions for environmental and forestry offences. The abolishment of already weak existing requirements, including the conduct of environmental impact assessments, that must be met before companies can obtain the necessary permits and proceed with business activities on indigenous peoples’ lands.

The coalition of Indonesian and International NGOs calls on UNCERD to urge the State of Indonesia to repeal the newly-enacted Omnibus Law, and ensure respect for indigenous peoples’ participation right in the process of considering and adopting any further legislation affecting their rights, ensuring that new any laws protects their substantive rights, fully and equally.

Rukka Sombolinggi, the chairwoman of Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago, says “This Law is about investment, it does nothing to protect Indigenous people’s customary lands. It [the Omnibus Law] will make it easier for companies to grab land”.

Linda Rosalina, a campaigner at TuK Indonesia, say “Seeing the potential catastrophe [of the Omnibus Law], we ask the President of Indonesia and the House of Representatives to revoke and repeal the Law, not only because of the flawed manner in which it was formulated but the highly problematic articles it contains.”

The demand for the repeal of the Job Creation Law also conveyed by Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch, “We ask the government to repeal the Omnibus Law and instead prioritise its’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The coalition of civil organization consist of: Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN) ; Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara Pengurus Wilayah Kalimantan Barat (PW AMAN Kalbar) ; Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara Pengurus Daerah Bengkayang, Singkawang dan Sambas (AMAN BENGSIBAS) ; Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara Pengurus Wilayah Tano Batak (PW AMAN Tano Batak) ; Institut Dayakologi (ID) ; Lembaga Bela Banua Talino (LBBT) ; Lembaga Bentang Alam Hijau (LemBAH) ; Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Masyarakat (ELSAM) ; Perkumpulan Nurani Perempuan (Women’s Conscience)  ; Hutan Kita Institute (HaKI) ; Perkumpulan Sawit Watch ; Perkumpulan Untuk Pembaharuan Hukum Berbasis Masyarakat dan Ekologis (HuMA) ; Transformasi untuk Keadilan Indonesia (TuK INDONESIA) ; Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI Eksekutif Nasional/Friends of the Earth Indonesia) ; Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia Kalimantan Barat (WALHI Kalbar) ; Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia Daerah Jambi (WALHI Jambi) ; Yayasan Padi Indonesia ; Bahtera Alam ; Akar Foundation ; Nagari Institute ; Link-AR Borneo ; Perkumpulan Pegiat JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) ; Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat (PUSAKA) ; The Palangkaraya Ecological and Human Rights Studies (PROGRESS) ; Forest Peoples Programme.

Ank, Nov 2020

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