Jakarta, KOMPAS – The Supreme Court denied President’s and other defendants’ cassation regarding forest fire in Central Borneo in 2015. President and other defendants needs to view the verdicts as a win together with citizens so they can collectively conduct preventive actions related to forest and land fires as well as give a better quality environment for the citizens.
The citizen lawsuit was filed in 2016 subsequent to the great forest fire happened in 2015. At that time, Central Borneo is one of the seven provinces where large forest fire happened.
All the district court, appeal court, and the Supreme Courts have sided with the plaintiffs. Only one demand is not fulfilled which asks the President to apologise to the citizens for the forest and land fire.
“Verdicts from the district court until Supreme Court proves that government acted wrongfully due to their omissions to conduct their duties as mandated in the law. However, this is not about win or loss, this verdict aims for President and the state officials to carry out their duties and responsibilities in preventing and managing forest and land fire,” said Raynaldo Sembiring, Deputy Director of Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), on Sunday (7/21/2019), in Jakarta.
This verdict aims for President and the state officials to carry out their duties and responsibilities in preventing and managing forest and land fire.
He agreed that the Supreme Court’s verdict is a collective win for citizens and government to implement the law together. In a positive way, this verdict can strengthen national and local government in forest and land fire management.
The lawsuit demands the defendants to enact several government regulations mandated by Law No. 32 Year 2009 Regarding Environment Protection and Management. From the seven government regulations related to forest and land fire mandated, government only enacted Government Regulation No. 46 Year 2017 Regarding Environmental Economic Instrument.
Other government regulations mandated are Government Regulation Regarding Mechanism to Determine Supporting and Carrying Capacities, Environmental Standard including water standard, ocean standard, ambient air standard, and other standards correspond to technology and knowledge developments, and Government Regulations Regarding Environmental Damage Criterias related to forest and/or land fires, which have not been enacted until now.
Therefore, according to ICEl, this citizen lawsuit is not exaggerating. On the other hand, these government regulations can help government in environmental management as well as legal enforcement of environmental cases, primarily forest and land fire.
Review of The Verdict
Raynaldo again emphasised this verdict is to prevent another forest and land fire. Moreover, the current government has only ruled for a year when the 2015 forest and land fire happened.
That is why the public understands if there are shortcomings and government may conduct corrective actions to prevent forest and land fire. “Forget about win-loss, let’s repair the environment. It would be very embarrassing if government submits a review for the verdicts because it seems like the government doesn’t want to execute law’s mandates,” he said.
On the other side, he assessed that review action will not delay the verdict’s execution. Raynaldo demanded government to show an example of a self execution of an environmental verdict. Government, especially General Directorate of Legal Enforcement of Ministry of Environment and Forestry always makes excuses not to execute verdicts because they claim an execution from the court is needed.
“This time, the Supreme Court’s verdict’s execution is in their own hands. Please carry this out,” he said.
Rieqi Rahmadiansyah, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, explained that during the court process from district court to the Supreme Courts, government has fulfilled some of the plaintiffs’ demands. “There are 26 demands where 15,4% of it have been fulfilled,” he said.
Those fulfilled demands, with its own shortfalls, are Government Regulation Regarding Environmental Economic Instruments, forest, land, and plantation fire vulnerability map in Central Borneo, supply of forest and land fires equipment, local regulation that regulates protection of conservation areas as mandated in Presidential Decree No. 32 Year 1990 Regarding Conservation Areas Management.
The Plaintiffs highlighted that the forest and land fires vulnerability map by National Disaster Management Agency and Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency has not been well socialized and has not incorporated social-economic aspects, and a local regulation regarding protection of conservation areas has not been enacted, but has been determined in Ministerial Decree No. Sk.130/MenLHK/Sekjen/PKL.0/2/2017 Regarding Establishment of National Peatland Ecosystem Utilization map.
The forest and land fires vulnerability map by National Disaster Management Agency and Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency has not been well socialized and has not incorporated social-economic aspects
In Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Press Release, on July 20th 2019, responding to the Supreme Court’s verdict, Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya expressed that they respect the verdict. According to her, plan to review the verdict is to emphasise that government has made many changes in forest and land fire management since 2015.
She explained that 2015 forest and land fires which scorched 2,6 millions hectares lands and forests happened in less than a year of President Joko Widodo’s reign. “President and all of us has followed the hotspot movements on the ground. However, it was inevitable, hotspots had expanded in 2015. Since he was just officiated, of course we have to learn the causes, what happened? why? Where did things go wrong? Turned out, there were a lot of mistakes from the past and Mr. Jokowi was the one who fixed those mistakes,” Minister Siti Nurbaya further explained.
Minister Siti said that forest and land fire was caused by multiple layered problems on the ground. Starting from weak regulations until local communities and corporations who deliberately burned or omitted to guard their lands.
To fix this obscene forest and land fire prevention and management, President enacted President Instruction No. 11 Year 2015 Regarding Acceleration of Forest and Land Fire Management, President Instruction No. 8 Year 2018 Regarding Permits Moratorium, Government Regulation No. 57 Year 2016 Regarding Amendment of Government Regulation No. 71 Year 2014 Regarding Peatland Ecosystem Protection and Management, and Peatland Restoration Body.
Meanwhile in Ministry of Environment and Forestry, a handful of policies were enacted such as Ministry Regulation No. 32 Year 2016 Regarding Forest and Land Fire Management, a well and sustained reorganization of peatland governance through permit monitoring, early management through alertness status and forest and land fire emergency, and other technical policies.
In terms of legal enforcement, she said, for the first time perpetrator of forest and land fire was imposed a multi-doors approach, which are criminal, civil, and administrative legal actions. These legal actions target both individuals and corporations.
In 2015-2018 period, almost 550 cases were brought to the civil and criminal court. 500 Companies received administrative sanctions on their violations, some permits were revoked. To guard the forest areas and resources, more than 713 security operations were conduction which involved the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, police forces, and Indonesian National Military. Government managed to win almost 18 trillions rupiahs value of forest and land fire cases.
In 2015-2018 period, almost 550 cases were brought to the civil and criminal court
Arie Rompas, one of the seven plaintiffs in the citizen lawsuit said facts showed in 2015 that citizens never felt the presence of government in the forest and land fire cases. He admitted corrective actions to prevent forest and land fire are starting to emerge with the presence of Peatland Restoration Body and legal process of 10 companies in Central Borneo.
“Although companies have not paid the penalties until now,” he said. Furthermore, smoke is starting to obscure Palangkaraya and surroundings which shows government still has a lot of work to do to prevent forest and land fire.”
Susanto,Ichwan.”Vonis MA Bukan Soal Menang Atau Kalah.” https://kompas.id/baca/utama/2019/07/22/vonis-ma-bukan-soal-menang-atau- kalah/. Diakses 22 Juli 2019.