The Low Implementation of Public Information Disclosure in the Forest and Land Sector

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Jakarta - It has been 11 years that the Public Information Disclosure Law (FOI Law) has been in force, but its implementation has been marked by various challenges and obstacles, among others, related to the long time needed to obtain information and execute court decisions. In fact, the FOI Law holds the principle that every public information must be obtained by every applicant for public information quickly and on time, at a low cost, and in a simple way.


Since 2011 when the SETAPAK program began, civil society groups which were working to promote forest and land’s good governance have been actively utilising this law, including encouraging information commission to resolve public information disputes in accordance with the mandate of the FOI Law.​​ 


However, the experience of civil society organisations, especially those engaged in the field of land and forest governance, shows that the principle of fast, timely, low cost, and simple methods is not easy to implement. The challenge starts from the unavailability of such data in public bodies, inadequate information and documentation management officials in providing certain information services so that the process is brought to the information dispute, not yet forming the Provincial Information Commission, and the most severe is the reluctance of public bodies to be open to the general public.


Ombudsman: Civil Society Needs to Arrange Strategies and Cleverly Utilise Momentum


"Until now the Public Agency has not fully implemented the FOI Law. However, the Petitioner should also understand the efforts of the Public Agency to provide information even though it is not yet fully in line with expectations," said Commissioner of Ombudsman Alamsyah Saragih as a guest speaker in Thematic 1 panel discussion "Institutionalisation of Public Information Disclosure in the Forest and Land Sectors" in Forestival V organised by The Asia Foundation last week in Jakarta (30/10/2019). Alamsyah continued that a special strategy was needed and the spirit was not unyielding from civil society to continue to voice disclosure. Besides civil society must be able to manage the strategy well, cleverly and be able to utilise suitable momentum to obtain information.


Forestival V was held to evaluate and synergise work programs and various movements and policies that support the improvement of forest and land governance by prioritising the principles of sustainability, justice and equality.


The Public Information Disclosure Panel was one of the topics discussed in the Forestival V Setapak presented several speakers who initiated the discussion, namely the Supreme Court Judge of the State Administrative Court of the Republic of Indonesia Dr. H. Yosran, S.H., M.Hum., Commissioner of Ombudsman Alamsyah Saragih, Deputy Director of ICEL (member of the Freedom of Information​​ Network Indonesia) Astrid Debora S. H., M.H., and Chairperson of the West Borneo Information Disclosure Commission Catharina Pancer Istiyani.


The Commissioner of Ombudsman, Alamsyah has several important notes, namely the occurrence of information disputes due to the exclusion of reasons for not having testing procedures on systematic consequences, FOI Law adheres to consequential doctrine, while commissioners of information commission and adjudicating judges tend to adhere to positive doctrine. Information applicants who do not have direct material interests tend to be normative and are not allowed partial or gradual fulfilment of access.


On the other hand, the Supreme Judge of the State Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Indonesia Dr. H. Yosran, S.H., M.Hum stated, "That talking about the issue of execution of court decisions and other efforts that can be made if the Public Agency does not comply with court decisions. One of the efforts that can be taken in the event that a Public Agency does not comply with a court decision is to use the Government Administration Act. Don't stop by just using the mechanism provided by the FOI Law," he said while answering discussion participants' questions related to public bodies that did not disclose information even though the information had been declared by the Supreme Court to be open to the public.


High Application for Settlement of Information Disputes


Commissioner of KI of West Borneo Province Catharina Pancer Istiyani in her presentation also said that the Information Commission received quite a lot of requests for dispute resolution related to environmental information and natural resources. She also said that the Petitioner had to have a strategy to obtain information and not play around with the dispute resolution process.


"There are several problems that we often see in the field of information disputes, the first problem is related to the awareness and etiquette of Public Agencies, many applicants are imposed by public bodies and ultimately these problems are not resolved. The second is related to execution, the applicant is asked to wait in advance the execution order from the Information Commission (KI), but from KI itself does not have clear rules in its implementation.


Settlement of Forest and Land Sectors Information Disputes


Information Commission










West Borneo





Central Borneo

2013-Agt 2019




West Sumatra






2019 (sd Okt)














Central Borneo















City of Cirebon




Meanwhile in the same place Deputy Director​​ of​​ ICEL Astrid Debora portrayed the issue of decreasing levels of transparency, especially in the forest and land sectors. "Call it the HGU case, for example, between FWI and the Ministry of ATR/BPN. Until now, the​​ Ministry of​​ ATR/BPN has not complied with the Supreme​​ Court's decision which emphasised that the HGU information was​​ open information. Even though it has permanent legal power, the Ministry of ATR/BPN​​ continues to insist on closing HGU information. This condition is exacerbated by the issuance of a Deputy Circular Letter of the Coordinating Ministry of Economy which seems to confirm that the HGU information is exempt information,"​​ explained Astrid.


"This neglect makes people spend extra energy to make various legal efforts,"​​ she said again. Several legal remedies carried out by Setapak's partners when they found the Public Agency​​ didn’t implement​​ the Information Commission's​​ or court​​ decision include: requesting execution, reporting to the police, reporting to the Ombudsman, and other informal efforts only to obtain documents or information that are declared open according to the​​ FOI Law​​ and the decision of the Information Commission/court. (Dona)