Government wins over courtcase against pulp giant APRIL

EoF News / 21 December 2017

State Administrative Court Jakarta rejected Thursday lawsuit lodged by PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), a major supplier of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), who demanded the court to annul suspension of their ten-year general workplan which banned their operation.

RAPP general workplan (RKU, rencana kerja umum) for 2010-2019 was suspended by the Ministry of Environmental and Forestry on 16 October 2017 due to the company denied to revise its workplan to obey recent Peat Protection and Management Regulation issued by the Government.

Judges panel presided by Oenoen Pratiwi decided to reject RAPP’s demand to annul the Minister of Environment and Forestry’s Decree number 5322/2017 did not fulfil formal requirement. The decree suspended the company’s workplan due to its disobedience to revise the workplan which as consequence, the company is banned to operate.

Meanwhile, lawyers of PT RAPP told the court that they will file appeal to the higher court.

“It is a victory dedicated to people of Riau province suffering haze for over 18 years, especially for the five casualties due to the fires and haze in 2015 and a soldier died on duty in 2016,” said Woro Supartinah, Coordinator of Jikalahari, on Thursday.

Three days before, scores of environmental NGOs urged the government to rescind license of PT RAPP for its disobedience to the Government regulation on peat protection. A finding by Transparansi untuk Keadilan (TuK) disclosed that APRIL was adamant to persistently deny peat protection regulation due to their concessions in peatlands were used as guarantee for their loans to international banks.  

TuK Indonesia had researched financial data of APRIL and indicated that APRIL strongly refuted to revise its workplan –that is to change peat function inside concession for restoration—due to 60% of its landbank was located in the peat. During 2010-2016 PT RAPP and APRIL group received loans amount to USD5.8 billion from 43 banks and financial institutions which will be due date in near future.

“If RAPP’s RKU is revised and its peat areas is set aside for protection function, so the production capacity and its asset value will decrease drastically, ” said Rahmawati Retno Winarni, Director Executive of TuK Indonesia (18/12/2017).

PT. RAPP holds license of industrial timber plantation in Riau province as they have got concession of 338.536 hectares spreading over some districts.

In October, Eyes on the Forest coalition blasted APRIL that the disobedience by PT RAPP to comply with regulation to revise General Work Plan (Rencana Kerja Umum, RKU) for peatland protection is against its Sustainable Forest Management Policy 2.0 that launched in 2015. The policy said APRIL had promised to comply with the existing Law and specifically committed to peat protection as well as sustainable peat management.  

 “This is constant resistance, which is conducted by awareness and designation,”says  Woro Supartinah from Jikalahari. “Obviously this betrays SMFP commitment, particularly to peat protection in Indonesia.”


In November 2017, RAPP filed lawsuit to the State Administrative Court protesting that the regulation harmed their business and accused the decree of being against the Law. It was a surprising move launched by APRIL as reports said in end of October the company had agreed to revise and consulted with the ministry for improvement.

On the trial on 11 December presenting witnesses from the sued side, the ministry, who sent Prof. Zudan Arif Fakrullah, Prof. Philipus M. Hadjon, and Prof. Asep Warlan Yusuf for testimony from legal aspect. The Ministry also presented Prof Bambang Hero Saharjo, academician and forest crime investigator for environmental side and Agus Pambagio speaking for issue of public interest.

Bambang Hendroyono, Secretary General of the Ministry, told media on 11 December that the legal expert witnesses concluded that the decision taken by the Government to suspend the workplan as relevant and comply with the Law.

Bambang Hendroyono said the pulp giant filed the lawsuit as its attempt to avoid themselves from obligation to obey peat protection regulation in its concession.

Bambang Hendroyono said the issuance of Minister’s decree number SK.5322/2017 which annulled general workplan 2010-2019 and demanded revision by RAPP as attempt to be in line with the Indonesian Government’s national strategic policy to prevent reoccurrence of severe forest and land fires  in 2015 due to degrading peat ecosystem.  

Academician Bambang Hero said the severe forest fires and haze including in PT RAPP concession had contributed to greenhouse gas emission enormously which ruined Indonesia’s credibility among international community.

PT. RAPP holds license of industrial timber plantation in Riau province as they have got concession of 338.536 hectares spreading over some districts.

The Ministry said the issuance of the Government Regulation number 57 year 2016 as replacement of number 71 year 2014 on Protection and Management on Peat Ecosystem requiring all timber plantation companies whose peat areas to revise their workplan. The recent regulation protects peat hydrological unit in concession to restore and ban companies to plant it any longer.