Indonesia: Court Finds President Jokowi Guilty in 2015 Kalimantan Forest Fire

Tempo 25 Aug 18;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Palangkaraya High Court found that President Joko `Jokowi` Widodo guilty for negligence in the 2015 forest fire case that ended up causing a larger issue from the smoke it produced.

Director of West Kalimantan`s non-profit Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Anton P. Widjaya said that the pieces of evidence in the field corroborates to the verdict.

Anton explained that up to August 14, there were 790 hot spots in the region with 201 of them in corporate areas. “Based on the hot spots on August 14, 2018, that were overlaid with West Kalimantan’s concession distribution map, there were 201 hot spots from the 790 spots in the concession,” he said on Friday, August 24.

He further expressed that the images from NASA MODIS Collection 6 (C6) aligns 80-100 percent to the West Kalimantan’s investment distribution map. This is the reason why Walhi urges the Forestry and Environment Ministry Siti Nurbaya Bakar to clarify the statement issued by Ruandha Agung Sugardiman, Director General of climate change control, who stated that the forest fires were caused by civilians in the area.

The statement by Ruandha, said Anton, reflects the lack of commitment from the government institution in upholding the law in environmental-related cases. Anton deemed the government’s statement is not backed by data, heavily subjective, and gives the impression that the government is protecting corporations that intentionally burn its concession land areas.

“The effect of one hundred farmers that burn their limited crop field areas and one corporation that burns thousands of hectares of land is not the same,” said Anton who acknowledged the fact that there are civilians who manage their field by conducting small-scale forest fires.

“The legal responsibility is in corporations and bureaucracy as owners of concessions, but why are the people that get the blame. The country should not protect environmental criminals in Indonesia,” Anton said.

Walhi further asks President Jokowi to make sure that the environment ministry would keep its commitment to take legal steps against corporations that are proven to be guilty in order to recover natural resource management in Indonesia.


Court receives Jokowi's cassation petition against forest fire guilty verdict
Marguerite Afra Sapiie The Jakarta Post 28 Aug 18;

The Supreme Court has received a cassation appeal filed by the government against a Palangkaraya High Court ruling that found President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo liable in the disastrous forest fires in Central Kalimantan.

Court spokesman Abdullah said the Supreme Court's administrative division was still checking the completeness of the appeal dossier, after which it would be handed over to the clerks’ division to be given a registration number.

"We cannot be sure when [the case will be processed] but it will not be too long, possibly within one month at the maximum," Abdullah said on Tuesday adding that the government would get no privilege from the court in handling the case.

Palangkaraya High Court ruled on Aug. 22 upholding the Palangkaraya District Court's ruling issued in March last year, which sided with environmental activists from Central Kalimantan who filed a citizen’s lawsuit against the government on the 2015 fires that caused the nation’s worst-ever haze crisis.

The activists filed the lawsuit against the President and his Cabinet ministers, including the environment, agriculture and health ministers as well as the Central Kalimantan governor and Central Kalimantan Regional Representative Council (DPRD).

In the ruling, the District Court ordered Jokowi to issue a regulation to support the implementation of the 2009 Environmental Protection and Management Law to prevent and control forest fires with the involvement of members of the public.