Riau Police gain support from formal, informal leaders

EoF News / 13 March 2007

Chief of Riau Police Brig-Gen Sutjiptadi told Forum of Riau Community Leaders (FKPMR) in Pekanbaru last weekend that his side had detained 140 suspects of illegal logging along 2007.

“Suspects we arrested are not only field perpetrators, but also several staff of Forestry Service who have conspiracy with corporate side,” the Chief told a dialogue with the community leaders as quoted by Media Indonesia daily as saying.

As corporate illegal logging eradication is a target to achieve by the police, Sutjiptadi requested key role of the informal leaders to support and share information needed.

Meanwhile, Lembaga Adat Melayu Riau, a Malay indigenous people association, pledged its support to the police’s stern action for fighting illegal logging in the province.

“Illegal logging obviously violates existing laws and inflicts loss to people,” said Aliarsyam, Head of LAM Riau chairing Protection and Advocacy of Customary Law Community, Bisnis Indonesia daily reported last weekend.

The Chief of Indonesian Police General Sutanto told a hearing at House of Representatives last month that the police suspected both PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper/APRIL and PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper/APP allegedly committed corporate forest crime in the province. (see EoF News 26 Feb 2007)

The legal action taken by Indonesian Police to two Riau-based pulp and paper companies instigated reaction and comments from both pros and cons sides. Reports said some parliamentarians in Jakarta and Riau, as well as Minister of Forestry accused the police of being misinterpreted in applying the forestry laws for probing APRIL and APP mills.

Hundreds of workers of a Pekanbaru-based wood company, PT Asia Forestama Raya, staged rallies early this month to protest the legal action conducted by police against the pulp companies. They said the seizure on the two mills will suspend their company’s operation and threatened their livelihood.

The police insisted that the probe to corporate forest crime will go on despite the wave of protests. Some NGOs including WALHI (the Friends of Earth Indonesia) also supported the action taken by the police. 

Riau Police then told the provincial Governor of the action taken. The official supported the legal action conducted by the police to probe both pulp companies.

In tackling probe to corporate crime as the police are conducting recently, several regulations and laws related to forestry will be applied by detaining perpetrators allegedly involved including truck drivers, forestry service officials and the companies’ staff.

“I am assisted by five investigators from the Indonesian Police Headquarters who visited Riau,” Sutjiptadi told the press as quoted by Kompas daily as saying. He pledged to take a stern measure if any member of police involved in such a forest crime.

RAPP public relations manager Nandik Supriyono said his side allowed the legal enforcers to probe the case as “the mill still runs.” While, Nazaruddin, IKPP PR manager told Tempo magazine saying: “We believe the law enforcers and the government will do their best.”