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The Urgency of the Customary Community Bill


Since the ratification of the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) on September 13, 2007, Indonesia does not yet have a Law on Indigenous Peoples.

According to Erasmus Cahyadi from the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN, ed) recently through a webinar entitled Welcoming the Ratification of the Customary Community Bill (Hukum) as an Initiative Rights of the House of Representatives (DPR), said that the procedure for recognizing indigenous peoples in the Indigenous Peoples Bill (the draft version of the Indigenous Peoples Bill) DPR) is more difficult than the current K/L policies. Meanwhile, Abdi Akbar who is also the Political Director of PB AMAN said that why the Indigenous Peoples Bill had to be discussed from the beginning and not included in the Bill which was continued with the discussion process.

Prof. Maria SW Sumadjono, UGM Agrarian Law Expert, said that the Indigenous Peoples Bill still perpetuates sectoralism because it does not clearly state where customary land is, the rights of indigenous peoples. Rukka Sombolinggi, Secretary General of AMAN, said that it was important to have an independent institution to avoid sectoralism in the regulation of indigenous peoples.

Meanwhile, Sulaeman L. Hamzah, who is also the Coordinator of the DPR RI Indigenous Peoples Bill, said that the Indigenous Peoples Bill was a continuation, which was then accommodated by Baleg with carry over from the existing draft, re-discussed, and enriched again.

Willy Aditya as Chair of the Working Committee for Drafting the Bill on Indigenous Law Communities (MHA) at the Legislation Body (Baleg), in an online discussion with the theme “Shoulder to Shoulders in Accelerating the Ratification of the Bill on MHA to Realize Social, Economic and Ecological Justice in Indonesia, said that the narrative of Indigenous Law Communities versus development or large corporation. The MHA Bill Panja in Baleg has completed its duties since September 4, 2020, has written to the leadership 3 times so that the MHA Bill is completed. Every plenary session was interrupted as to why the MHA Bill was never finalized.

Meanwhile, Devi Anggraini, who serves as Chair of the Women’s Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN), said that there is no antipathy to development as long as there is benefit to the indigenous peoples. But what is criticized is the process which often does not involve indigenous peoples as a whole. Development is supported as long as there is a role for progress. For example, they are involved in playing a role in the development according to what they can and need to do.

The situation where corporations exploit natural resources to damage the environment and displace Indigenous Peoples who use their living space fully in the environment has reached a crisis stage which causes victims of resource conflicts to arise in one third of Indonesia’s territory. Hundreds of natural resource conflicts in an area of ​​2.1 million hectares and 176,637 indigenous people became victims of these conflicts in 2018 showing that this crisis is expanding. Then there were 125 indigenous communities who became victims of resource conflicts in 2019. The crisis facing the community today during the pandemic has touched not only structurally but also all aspects of people’s lives.

Indigenous peoples have an important role in maintaining and conserving 574,119 hectares of forest. The practice of Indigenous Peoples with their local wisdom is able to keep nature or forests sustainable. The practice of protecting the forest by Indigenous Peoples can stop the decline in forest cover and reduce deforestation (a contribution of 34.6% from meeting Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contribution target). So that all stakeholders must work together in synergy in saving forests in customary areas (863 maps of Indigenous Areas with an area of ​​11.09 million hectares) in line with the Government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the author, if the Bill on Indigenous Peoples is not finalized immediately, it is feared that there will be a crisis. The existence of a vacuum or the absence of an administrative system for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Territories and their local wisdom does not become a reference in the whole system of regulating the nature of rights and guarantees for rights and development planning. The success of Indigenous Peoples in voicing their interests in international forums and the struggle of Indigenous Peoples in global meetings, is an important indication that deserves mutual attention, especially the Government because the realization of Government support for the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does not yet exist, namely the Indigenous Peoples Law. This can be used by parties who are opposed to the Government and relate it to the issue of Human Rights.

Constitutionally the existence of indigenous peoples is recognized, but due to the vacancy or lack of administration of indigenous peoples, it cannot support the One Map Policy in the sense that customary areas are not integrated with the Thematic Map of Customary Areas in the geoportal so that there is no data or information about indigenous peoples and customary territories at the Ministry and Government Agencies. This results in the rights of indigenous peoples being harmed.

In the context of advancing the independence of indigenous peoples based on the protection and recognition of customary territories and the important role that has been performed by indigenous peoples in environmental sustainability, the voice and interests of the indigenous peoples are paramount. So that the formulation of the Customary Community (Law) Bill must be participatory, not fictitious, by involving all parties. In addition, it also pays attention to time restrictions in policy formulation so as not to cause problems in its implementation.

It seems that, seeing the very important and strategic importance of this regulation related to indigenous peoples, according to the author, the DPR RI through Commission III together with the Government can immediately ratify it.

Bustaman al Rauf, the author is an observer of socio-cultural issues and regulations. Lives in Pidie Jaya, Aceh

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