Civil lawsuit on haze kicks off, six govt officials sued

EoF News / 31 March 2016
Civil society groups including WALHI Riau, Jikalahari, Seku Keluang, have traditional ceremony in Pekanbaru before filing a citizen lawsuit against Government for failing to prevent and mitigate forest/land fires as well as haze disaster in Riau province in 2015. Photo ©WALHI Riau. March 2016

Civil society organizations in Riau entered a key moment as civilian lawsuit against government officials was tried in Pekanbaru district court Wednesday (30 March). The lawsuit is filed on behalf of Riau citizens and facilitated by NGOs in an attempt to pursuit justice from haze drive by forest and land fires in 2015.

Six officials sued by the Riau citizens are The Indonesian President, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Agriculture Minister, Head of National Agrarian Agency, Minister of Health and Riau Governor, media reports said.

Presiding judge Ahmad Setyo Pudjoharsoyo said that representatives of President, Head of Agrarian Agency, and Minister of Agriculture, did not attend the first trial, the judge told the court. “The Indonesian Government on behalf of Presiden Joko Widodo did not attend [the trial],” said Pudjoharsoyo

The lawyer of plaintiff, Indra Jaya, hoped that the accused or the government could fulfill the invitation next week and require peaceful notification. WALHI Riau, Jikalahari, LBH Riau, and Sikukeluang are among organizations who facilitated the lawsuit that endorsed by Riau Malay Adat Board (LAM).

On 10 March, the lawsuit dossier was conveyed to Pekanbaru district court by four persons representing Riau citizen legal interest, they are Riko Kurniawan from WALHI Riau, Woro Supartinah from Jikalahari, Heri Budiman from cultural group Siku Keluang, and Al Azhar, chairman of Riau Malay Adat Board (Lembaga Adat Melayu).

The lawsuit was filed to the court following 60 days after its notification was registered, there is no response from the six governmental bodies/officials. “We don’t see any good willing from the Government to respond our notification,” Riko said told media three weeks ago. “We ask the Government’s responsibility.”

At least five people died in Riau due to polluted haze by forest and land fires in 2015 when 81,000 people suffered acute respiratory infection due to the haze from manmade burnings in South Sumatra, Jambi and Riau.

Burnings prosecution

Meanwhile, PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo, a palm oil company and a suspect of forest/land burnings, was prosecuted in Pelalawan district court since February this year. Its field manager “FK” is tried on the court for burnings the company allegedly set up in 2015.  PT National Sago Prima, sago plantation owned by Sampoerna Group, faced administrative trial in Jakarta.

In December 2015, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry announced 23 companies of timber suppliers and palm oil plantations in some provinces who were punished in administrative sanctions, such as license suspension, permanent revoking, and forced penalty.

The companies are: PT Hutani Sola Lestari  (Panca Eka/APRIL),  PT  Dyera Hutan Lestari, PT Mega Alam Sentosa (HTI/APP-Sinar Mas), PT  Wira Karya Sakti (HTI/APP), PT ITCI Hutani Manunggal (HTI/Berca/Murdaya), PT   Kaswari Unggul, PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI Group and  Bumitama), PT Bumi Mekar Hijau (HTI/APP), PT SBA Wood Industries (HTI/ APP-Sinar Mas), PT Sumatera Riang Lestari (HTI/APRIL), PT Pesona Belantara Persada (HPH), PT Buana Megatama Jaya (HTI/APP), PT Industrial Forest Plantation (HTI), PT Tingang Karya Mandiri, PT Gagah Putera Satria (GPS Group), PT Korintiga Hutani  (HTI/Korindo), PT Daya  Mitra Lestari (HPH),  PT Sumur Pandan Wangi (plantation), PT HE, PT Waringin Agro Jaya (plantation), PT RPM,  PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo ( Provident Agro/Wilmar supplier), PT Tempirai Palm Resources (plantation) and PT BACP.