Jayapura, Jubi – The Papua Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) asks the Head of the Investment and One-Stop Integrated Service Office of Papua Province to immediately revoke Decree No. 82/2021 on the environmental feasibility of a plan to develop oil palm plantations and processing plants in the customary forest of the Woro Clan in Boven Digoel Regency, South Papua Province.
LBH Papua said it would support the struggle of the Woro Clan to increase the ability of forests and land to absorb greenhouse gasses in accordance with law.
Director of LBH Papua Emanuel Gobay, in a press release received by Jubi on Saturday, March 25, 2023, said the Moro customary forest with a capacity of 90 tons tbs/hour covering 36,094 ha, was to be utilized by PT Indo Asiana Lestari in Mandobo and Fofi districts, Boven Digoel Regency.
According to Gobay, the legal recognition of customary forest ownership by Indigenous Papuans has been explicitly guaranteed in Indonesian law, wherein the state recognizes and respects the unity of customary law communities, along with their traditional rights as long as they are still alive and correspond to the development of society, as stipulated in Article 18b paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution.
“In addition, the obligation to recognize, respect, protect, empower and develop the rights of indigenous peoples are also stipulated in Article 43 paragraph (1) of Law No. 2/2021 on amendments to Law No. 21/2001 on Papua Special Autonomy,” said Gobay.
Fear of losing their customary forests in an area of 36,094 to oil palm plantation, the Woro Clan of the Awyu Indigenous People filed a lawsuit against the Head of the Papua Investment and One-Stop Integrated Service Office for the issuance of the decision letter on the feasibility of the oil palm plan. They filed the lawsuit to the Jayapura State Administrative Court on March 13, 2023.
LBH Papua also called on the President to protect forests in all customary areas of Papua, in order to increase the ability of forests and land to absorb greenhouse gasses.
“In addition, the Minister of Environment and Forestry and regional heads in all indigenous territories of Papua are obliged to recognize indigenous Papuans as owners of Papua’s customary forests in accordance with Constitutional Court Decision Number 35/PUU-X/2012 dated May 16, 2013,” he said.
The Minister of Environment and Forestry and regional heads in all indigenous regions of Papua are expected to immediately revoke company licenses granted without the knowledge and consent of indigenous Papuans who own customary forests. (*)