PRESS RELEASE: Walhi makes historic legal intervention as rogue palm oil company tries to sue Governor of Aceh over cancellation of controversial palm oil permit in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest
14/12/2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
Walhi makes historic legal intervention as rogue palm oil company tries to sue Governor of Aceh over cancellation of controversial palm oil permit in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest
[Banda Aceh] In an unprecedented legal move, on Thursday 13th December in the Administration court of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Walhi Aceh (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) motioned to join the Governor of Aceh Province as a co-defendent in a lawsuit brought against him by palm oil company PT. Kallista Alam, whose controversial palm oil concession in the Tripa peat swamp forests of Aceh he recently cancelled after law courts found clear legal infractions in the issuance of its plantation permit.
“WALHI’s move to intervene like this is the first ever of its kind in Indonesia, and serves to emphasise just how serious we are in our support for the Governor’s strong stance in upholding the law against illegal permits in the province”, stated Walhi Aceh Executive Director, TM Zulfiker. “In regard to the intervention”, he continued, “WALHI indeed have a serious interest in this case and wish to be represented in court. We must ensure the Administrational Court in Banda Aceh fully understands the legal processes that have led to this new case being filed, in particular the course of events that followed after Walhi won the appeal in its case against the company at the Administration Court in Medan, which led directly to the Governor taking action and revoking the company’s permit”.
Luhut MP Pangaribuan, head of the legal team representing PT Kallista Alam, objected to the motion, stating that WALHI Aceh have no interest in the case but Zuhri, the lawyer working for WALHI Aceh, immediately refuted this, stating that “The motion to join the case is based on the legal precedent and actions of the case filed by WALHI against the previous Governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf, and the company PT Kalista Alam, for legal irregularities in the now revoked permit. The permit was revoked by Aceh’s current Governor, Zaini Abdullah, after a court order requesting him to do so was issued by the Administration Court in Medan. This is precisely why we wish to stand by that decision and support the Governor for taking the correct legal course of action in revoking the permit”.
Today there are several ongoing legal cases related to the company PT Kallista Alam, as explained by Kamaruddin, a lawyer representing Tripa Community. “Firstly, there was the original case filed by WALHI Aceh against the company and former Governor for the issuance of the illegal permit. In this case, the judges in the administrational court of Medan agreed with WALHI Aceh, that there were indeed a number of legal infractions in the issuance of the permit. It was this decision that resulted in the current Governor cancelling the permit. Now the company is attempting to appeal this earlier decision with the Supreme Court in Jakarta”.
“Secondly, and in a separate case, PT Kallista Alam is attempting to sue the new Governor over the permit’s cancellation in the administrational court of Banda Aceh, even though it was revoked in full compliance with the law, as clearly demonstrated by the judges decision in the case described above. It is this new lawsuit in which WALHI is seeking to intervene and join, as a co-defendant standing alongside Governor Zaini Abdullah.”
“Thirdly, also in a seperate case, the Ministry of Environment and the Attourney Generals Office are taking legal action against the PT Kallista Alam for legal infringements in the field, at the district court of Meulaboh, in West Aceh.”. Kamaruddin went on to explain, “the main problem for all of us is that whilst these lengthy court battles are ongoing, the destruction of the unique Tripa peat swamp forests by Kallista Alam and other companies is continuing unchecked. All of the companies in Tripa are still actively commiting crimes in the field, and PT Kallista seems to be deliberately trying to prolong proceedings and slow down the cases against them”.
As the court was settling for Tuesday’s hearing in Banda Aceh, an angry protest was heard outside the courtroom, “PT Kallista Alam has destroyed Tripa and is selling out our country”, Fery, a protester from the coalition of students and community for Tripa, shouted through a megaphone to a mob of over 50 university students who had gathered, chanting, singing and carrying placards, to affirm their support for Aceh’s Governor and his stance against law breakers.
“It’s blatantly obvious there have been numerous crimes committed in Tripa relating to spatial planning law, environmental law, and forestry plantation law. There have also been clear breaches of the Indonesian Government’s moratorium on new plantations in primary forests and peatlands, which resulted from the billion dollar agreement between Indonesia and Norway”, stated Deddy Ratih, Spatial Planning Campaigner for WALHI Indonesia. “While WALHI is taking action in support of Aceh’s Governor, illegal actions in the field must also be halted by direct intervention of the police and both Provincial and National Government. Even today, despite all the legal wrangling in the courts, canals continue to drain the last of the life from Tripa’s protected peat swamps and PT Kallista Alam is simply playing games, as it tries to prolong and delay implementation of the law. The reality is that every day plantation activities in the field are slowing killing Tripa. All of the companies operating there must be reviewed and have their permits cancelled if they are not in full compliance with the letter of the law. Activities must be stopped and all drainage canals blocked immediately if this critically important and unique ecosystem is to have any chance of recovery”.
“No matter what the eventual outcomes of the various legal process taking place, it will all be meaningless unless strong and decisive action is taken right now on the ground, all the permits should be revoked immediately and work begin to restore the damaged areas”, he reiterated.
Public information on the appeal lodged by PT Kallista Alam with the Supreme Court is limited, and a decision on whether the appeal will be allowed to proceed or not is considered likely to take place ‘in camera’ (behind closed doors).
For further comment or information please contact:
Deddy Raith – firstname.lastname@example.org
Spatial Planning Campaigner, Walhi Indonesia (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)
Yuyun Indradi – email@example.com
Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia
- PT. Kallista Alam suing Aceh Government in regard to revoking permit (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Palm Oil company PT Kallista Alam fails to show in court case filed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment over destruction of world renowned Sumatran Orangutan stronghold, the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest. (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- District court of Meulaboh delay Kallista hearing for the second time (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Tomorrow, The Civil Trial for Tripa Case Will Be Held In Meulaboh (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- State Attorney Lawyers File The Legal Case of Tripa Peat Swamp This Week (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
JAKARTA – Deputy V heading the Legal Division of the Ministry of Environment, Sudariono, explained that a team of State Attorney Lawyers will file a lawsuit in the case of the Tripa Peat Swamp this week.
“The plan is at the beginning of this month, and within one to three days, the team of State Attorney Lawyers, as the legal representatives of the Minister of the Environment, will depart for Aceh,” said Sudariono during a press conference after a Coordination Meeting on Environmental Law Enforcement in 2012 in Jakarta, last Tuesday morning, November 6, 2012.
He said, there are two lawsuits to be filed: a criminal case and a civil case related to PT. Kallista Alam (KA) and PT. Surya Panen Subur (SPS) 2. For PT. KA the case will be filed in Nagan Raya, Aceh Barat, namely the District Court of Meulaboh.
While for PT. SPS-2 the case will be filed in the District Court of Jakarta. But, Sudariono did not declare exactly which court. “In accordance with the deed,” he claimed.
Sudariono said that for the criminal case, the team of State Attorney Lawyers is prepared with an Order of Appoinment for the Public Prosecutor to Observe the Development of the Investigation of the Crime, also known as P 16.
“The criminal charges are compiled together with BPLN LH, so hopefully,” added Sudariono.
Currently, the Ministry of Environment ,with the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, are applying a Certification Programme for Environmental Judges.
The goal of this programme is to improve the legal handling of environmental cases at all court levels, including the Administrative Court, to better fulfill the sense of justice for litigants involved, and also to support efforts in environmental protection.
“There are still laws that are unclear, so this certification programme is important in order to build a common perception,” said the Head of the Supreme Court, Hatta Ali.
Hatta Ali said that the enforcement of environmental law so far strictly refers to Law No. 32/ 2009, but there are still obstacles on the field. “Concerning expert witnesses, for example, what is the criteria? Does it fulfill the requirements for filing a “legal standing?” said Ali.
The Ministry of Environment indicated that the Certification Programme for Environmental Judges will be carried out for two months. This programme prioritises the judges in charge in the regions with the most severe envrionmental destruction, namely Sumatera, Java and Kalimantan.(bna)
- Melanie Subono investigates the destruction of Tripa Peat Swamp (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Governor: Protect Tripa Peat Swamp (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
- Historic Cancellation of Oil Palm Permit Opens Door for Prosecution of Companies Crimes (endoftheicons.wordpress.com)
Thursday, September 27, 2012 19:52 WIB
MURDANI ABDULLAH | Free Translation by Adji Darsoyo
BANDA ACEH – The Government of Aceh has officially revoked the plantation permit of PT Kalista Alam in Tripa Peat Swamp. The withdrawal was marked through the issuance of a Governor Decree No. 525/BP2T/5087/2012 signed by the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, on September 27, 2012.
“Correct, we have revoked the permit of Kalista Alam. We hope that this decision can be accepted by all parties,” said the Head of the Legal and PR Office of the Aceh Regional Secretariat, Makmur Ibrahim.
According to him, the revoked permit is for an area within Pulo Kruet village, Sub district of Darul Makmur in Nagan Raya, covering 1,605 ha.
The reason of the withdrawal, add Makmur, is that, because PT Kalista Alam was considered violating the existing legal regulation.
The Article 45A Point c of the Law No. 5/2004 on the Supreme Court declares restriction for state administrative cases, which can only be appealed to Administrative High Court, but not to cassation at the Supreme Court.
Besides, PT Kalista Alam also violated the agreement to establish plasma plantation covering 30% of the total of 1,605 ha.
“Based on this we withdraw the permit of Kalista Alam, which also has never submitted any midterm report on their business development to the Governor of Aceh,” he said.(bna)
Banda Aceh – Almost a month after the decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan ordered the Governor of Aceh to revoke the Plantation Permit issued for PT Kalista Alam, the Government of Aceh has officially issued the Letter of Revocation of the controversial permit.
The Governor of Aceh has issued Decree No. 525/BP2T/5078/2012, dated September 27 2012 revoking Governor’s Permit No. 525/BP2T/5322/2011 to PT Kalista Alam for a Plantation covering 1,605 ha, located in Pulo Kruet village within the Sub-district of Darul Makmur, Nagan Raya District.
The Decree stated that the revocation was executed based on the Article 45A of the Law No. 5/2004 on the Amendment of the Law No. 14/1985 on the Supreme Court, which states that in an administrative lawsuit, which covers a decision of a regional official that applies within the official’s region of jurisdiction, is not eligible for appeal to the Supreme Court.
WALHI Aceh extends its appreciation to the Government of Aceh that has shown its compliance with the law. “The ruling of the Administrative High Court of Medan is clear, namely that the Governor had to revoke the permit of PT Kalista Alam covering 1,605 ha in Tripa Peat Swamp, so it had to be done. If not, the Government of Aceh would have been in violation of the law,” said the Executive Director of WALHI Aceh, T. Muhammad Zulfikar.
Tripa Peat Swamp is part of Leuser Ecosystem which has been designated as a National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection, in the Law No. 26/2007 on Spatial Plan and in the Government Regulation No. 26/2008 on National Spatial Planning.
The withdrawal of the license sends a signal to ‘naughty’ entrepreneurs not to play around with the law and regulation in Aceh. “This is important for maintaining legal certainty in conducting business and in investing in Aceh, and thus benefits the common people” said T. Muhammad Zulfikar.
According to WALHI Aceh, there were several reasons to revoke the controversial plantation permit without the need for action in the courts. One of them is the failure of PT Kalista Alam to establish the required community-based “plasma” plantation in 30% of their total plantation area. Also, PT Kalista Alam has never submitted the required regular monthly report on the physical development of its plantation to the Government of Aceh, either to the relevant offices at district or provincial level.
WALHI Aceh believes that each and every plantation company that flouts existing laws and regulations must be firmly sanctioned. “It should not be necessary to have to resort to the courts for permits to be revoked. If companies do not comply with what is agreed and inflict losses for Aceh, they must be sanctioned,” he said.
According to WALHI’s records, other there are many other problem plantation companies besides PT Kalista Alam, with violations such as illicit land grabbing, conducting development operations prior to receiving a permit, failure to develop community plasma plantations, and clearing by burning.
WALHI Aceh requests the Government of Aceh to thoroughly and firmly evaluate all the companies in the Tripa Peat Swamps. “The results of these evaluations will determine the direction of future policy in this peatland, especially related to its environmental protection,” said T Muhammad Zulfikar.