Greenpeace statement on law enforcement in forest and peatland fire cases

Press release - September 5, 2016
Jakarta, September 5 2016 -- Indonesia’s response to forest fires is being hampered by a crisis in law enforcement. Not only have police failed to reinstate over a dozen dropped investigations into pulpwood and oil palm plantation companies in Riau [1] but over the weekend an angry mob held fire investigators hostage at a palm oil plantation area in Rokan Hulu district, also in Riau.

The investigators, who are law enforcement staff from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, have since been released, but not before the hostage-takers forced them to delete their camera memory cards. Fortunately, some images shot by drone survived. Those aerial photos show that some of the burned area had been cleared for planting with oil palm, a common but illegal practice in plantation development. [2] The area hit by fire consisted of peatlands where first indications are that active drainage was underway, which has also been banned by government directive since last year’s fires.

Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner said:

“Greenpeace calls on the President to send a clear message on forest fire law enforcement -- that he supports, and expects maximum effort from the Minister for Environment and Forestry  and the Chief of National Police. Fire prevention is covered not only by criminal law, but also civil and administrative laws, so the president must order the police and relevant ministries to cooperate better. They must ensure companies which breach the law face sanctions -- criminal, administrative and payment of damages as appropriate.”

“The supreme court must ensure judicial staff with training in environmental cases and a proven clean record are appointed to hear fire cases. And the Judicial Commission and the Minister of Justice & Human Rights must monitor cases to ensure transparency and justice, without the opportunity for business elites to exercise undue influence and corrupt the legal process,” Yuyun said.

“The Indonesian public bears the brunt of the fires and smoke crisis, but it can also play a crucial role in ending it, by monitoring for forest and peatland destruction. Local communities, the media and NGOs are in a position to provide tip offs to law enforcers and to let companies know they won't escape public notice when fires break out on land they control. However this is only possible if the government drops its current policy of secrecy and allows public access to data and maps about who controls land.” [3]

[ends]

Notes to Editors:

[1] See http://nasional.kompas.com/read/2016/07/24/18204271/kasus.pembakaran.hutan.15.perusahaan.dihentikan.polisi.luhut.sebut.enggak.benar. and http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2016/08/24/206798384/Fires-Detected-Again-in-Lands-Owned-by-Companies-Given-SP3

[2] For fires information, see the Kepo Hutan tool, which provides the most detailed publicly available company information, showing the borders of palm oil and pulpwood plantations, logging and coal mining concessions and who owns them, and how concessions relate to peatlands, fire hotspots and deforestation alerts. Available in Indonesian at www.greenpeace.org/kepohutan  or English version at http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/id/Global/seasia/Indonesia/Code/Forest-Map/en/index.html

[3] For further on this issue, see http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/Press-Centre/Press-Releases/As-dangerous-business-practices-go-unpunished-Indonesias-fires-and-haze-return/

Media Contacts:

  • Yuyun Indradi, Forest campaigner of Greenpeace Indonesia, Telp +6281226161759
  • Igor O'Neill, International Media, Greenpeace Indonesia. , Mobile +62 811 1923 721