Indonesia: Court Rules Against Leuser Ecosystem Lawsuit

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 30 Nov 16;

Jakarta. The Central Jakarta District Court on Tuesday (29/11) ruled against a civil lawsuit seeking to protect the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh, which was filed almost a year ago.

The judges argued that the ecosystem was already excluded from the Aceh Spatial Plan 2013-2033 and that the decision could not be revoked by means of a lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by the Aceh Citizens Lawsuit Movement (Geram) against the minister of home affairs, Aceh governor and Aceh local administration. It sought to include the Leuser Ecosystem in the Aceh Spatial Plan 2013-2033 to protect it from further degradation caused by mining, logging and palm oil production.

"The facts are indisputable; therefore, we cannot accept the verdict and we will appeal. This is the first ever citizen action lawsuit in Aceh; we are ready to continue the battle," Geram coordinator Nurul Ikhsan said in a statement.

Recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Leuser Ecosystem is home to Sumatra's endemic wildlife – rhinos, elephants, orangutans and tigers. The ecosystem is also the province's water reservoir.

According to Geram representative Farwiza Farhan, mining operations and palm oil plantations in Leuser result in frequent floods and landslides.

"[By excluding the ecosystem from the spatial plan] they will whitewash the past environmental crimes and pave the way for further ecological destruction and manmade natural disasters," said Farwiza, who is also the founder of nongovernmental organization Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh.

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