Indonesia: Environmental Group to File New Police Reports Against Riau Forest Burners

Alin Almanar Jakarta Globe 3 Sep 16;

Jakarta. An environmental organization will file new police reports against 15 companies allegedly implicated in Riau's wildfires last year, a group member said after its complaints were dropped last month.

Citing lack of evidence, the Riau Police terminated their investigations into the plantation companies that allegedly performed illegal land burning practices.

Activists from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) have launched their own investigations into the cases. Walhi member Zenzi Suhadi said fire spots have frequently been detected since 2013, in most of the concessions.

"We have found that the fire was used to clear the land. This means those companies are indeed responsible for environmental destruction there," Zenzi said on Friday (02/09).

Zenzi added that Walhi has found that three of the 15 companies have also been implicated in cases of illegal logging, but the police have terminated their investigations in 2008.

"We decided to report these crimes again to the police. The police should be progressive and not get trapped in procedural matters," he said.

The 15 companies are part of the 18 reportedly responsible for the 2015 forest and peatland fires. Three companies were brought before the court.

Wildfires have been a recurring problem in Indonesia over the past decade. The 2015 fires, described by observers as the worst on record, have destroyed vegetation on millions of hectares, afflicted more than half a million people with health problems, and resulted in billions of dollars in losses.

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