Blocking Access to Palm Oil Information, Deputy Coordinating Minister for the Economy Reported by NGOs

JAKARTA – Dozens of civil society organisations reported Musdhalifah Machmud, Deputy for the Coordination of Food and Agriculture, to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy Darwin Nasution on Wednesday (21/8). The report is in connection with the issuance of Letter Number: TAN.03.01/265/D.II.M.EKON/05/2019 dated the 6th of May 2019, concerning Data and Information related to Palm Oil Plantation.


“The Deputy letter was used as an excuse for several Public Bodies to refuse providing public information. In Jambi, for example, requests for information by our researchers were denied by the Plantation Office, on the basis of the Deputy’s Letter. Obviously this is a violation of procedure,” explained the Director of Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) Henri Subagiyo in his statement to, Wednesday (21/8).


Although not explicitly addressed to Ministries/Institutions or Regionals, the information contained in point 3 of the letter does indeed appear to provide direction to the Ministries/ Institutions and Regional Governments to determine data and information regarding the Land Cultivation Rights (HGU) of palm oil plantations (in the form of holder name, map and location) as information excluded. The directive is reiterated in point 4 which asks Ministries/Institutions and Regional Governments not to make initiatives to make agreements with other parties in providing data and information related to palm oil plantations.


“We urge the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to give instructions to all of his staff to comply with the provisions of Law No. 14 of 2008 concerning Public Information Disclosure (KIP Law). The KIP Law states that HGU information along with supporting documents are open information. This had also been decided by the Supreme Court in the information dispute between Forest Watch Indonesia and the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning / National Land Agency (ATR / BPN),” added Ahmad Hanafi, Director of the Indonesian Parliamentary Center (IPC).


Desiana Samosir (Activist from the Coalition of Freedom of Information Network Indonesia-FOINI) said that the Deputy’s Letter was against the law and had to be revoked. Constitutional violations of access to information cannot be tolerated. Furthermore, the 36 organisations asked the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to cancel the Deputy Letter within 10 (ten) working days. If not, civil society organisations will take other legal remedies guaranteed by legislation.


Source: reported-lsm/