Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1) Human rights recommendations for Indonesia

1) Human rights recommendations  for Indonesia
2) Wilmar’s New ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ Policy: What will it mean in Merauke?
3) Indonesia: Fear for the safety of Mr. Yohanes Boseren, arbitrarily detained and in poor health following ill-treatment


1) Human rights recommendations  for Indonesia
Nukila Evanty, Jakarta | Opinion | Wed, December 11 2013, 11:36 AM
Indonesia received 180 recommendations when it was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meeting on 23 May 2012 in Geneva.

The UPR is a mechanism by which the UNHRC observes the promotion and protection of human rights in each UN member state. The mechanism on human rights applies equally to all UN member states without exception and is based on objective information on the fulfillment of human rights commitments by each state. This UPR review is the second cycle for Indonesia after being reviewed in April 2008.

The review, which highlights the challenges of human rights in Indonesia and the human rights responsibility of the government, is relevant as the world commemorated Human Rights Day on Tuesday.

Torture, which is rampantly practiced by state agencies, tops the number of recommendations, in which the UN member states asked Indonesia to amend the Criminal Code to include torture as a crime as stipulated in the Convention against Torture, Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment which Indonesia has ratified. Torture was a crucial issue that Indonesia had to address as recommended by UN special rapporteur Manfred Nowak, who visited the country in 2007.

Indonesia received 20 recommendations, the second highest number, regarding freedom of religion and beliefs and the increasing incidents of mob violence involving hard-line Islamist groups against religious minorities in Java and Sumatra. These acts of violence rose from 135 in 2007 to 216 in 2010 and 244 in 2011. The recommendations called for revision of national laws that are deemed discriminatory.

The third highest number of recommendations concerned freedom of political expression in Papua, including the lack of access by foreign media there. The recommendations called for full access to relevant international human rights and humanitarian actors and foreign journalists. On the issue of Papua, 13 delegations questioned repeated shooting incidents and violence targeting civilians. They perceived the Indonesian government as being “too much aware and suspicious” of the separatist movement in Papua.

Human rights activists and groups have recommended that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hold a dialogue with the people of Papua. But the President seems to have opted for the establishment of the Unit for Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B).

The fourth highest number of recommendations highlights the state’s failure to end impunity. It calls on the government to amend laws sensitive to human rights, reform the security sector through education and enhance national capacity to maintain security and enforce the law.

What is the importance of the 180 recommendations for Indonesia?

First and foremost Indonesia should follow up on the UPR recommendations for the coming four years. Secondly, it needs to measure its commitment to human rights protection. Third, it has to identify impediments to coordination among ministries related to human rights promotion.

No less pressing is coordination between the Ministry of Law and Human Rights and other ministries, and the national commissions on human rights to promote the recommendation of UPR 2012 to relevant stakeholders, civil society, non-governmental organizations and academics.

At least two recommendations from the UPR have been implemented recently through ratification of the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on child trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography.

More comprehensive measures should be adopted by the government to credibly address the human rights situation as stated in the UPR recommendations. First, Indonesia needs to use the mechanism to publicize and familiarize the public with the UPR recommendations and the efforts it has been taking related to human rights. Second, the Law and Human Rights Ministry needs to cooperate with various stakeholders at the national and provincial levels to address the gap between policy and practice. Third, the government should involve civil society groups to work with it in implementing the accepted recommendations.

To mark Human Rights Day let us strengthen our respect for human rights and exercise our right to learn about the UPR recommendations and how they are implemented.

The writer is a fellow with the Abo Academy for Human Rights, Finland and human rights adviser for RIGHTS Foundation.

2) Wilmar’s New ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ Policy: What will it mean in Merauke?

On 5th December, Wilmar International, one of Asia’s biggest agribusiness corporations and the world’s biggest palm oil trader, announced a broad new environmental and social policy, including a commitment to no deforestation and the principle of Free, Prior Informed Consent when dealing with indigenous communities.
As these new ethical criteria would apply not only to Wilmar’s own plantations but also other companies who supply the palm oil, sugar and soy that Wilmar trades, it would seem that this pledge might have a big effect on the plantation industry’s environmental record – especially for palm oil where Wilmar controls 45% of world trade.
The question is, will it be implemented? This new policy was launched at the same time as a deal between Wilmar and food and household products giant Unilever, which has its own target to only use traceable palm oil by the end of 2014. As more multinationals come under pressure to use less environmentally-damaging ingredients, the commercial benefits to Wilmar of appearing to be an environmental leader are clear.
However the company has frequently been accused of violating ethical standards that is has signed up to in the past – for example as a member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and recipient of funding from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation(IFC). That means many groups with experience of the company’s track record are sceptical about this new commitment.

PT Anugerah Rejeki Nusantara: a test of whether the new policy is serious.

In West Papua Wilmar has plans for two 40,000 hectare sugar-cane plantations in Merauke and two more in neighbouring Mappi regency, and these could be a key test for the company’s new policy. If these plantations for ahead, they will clearly contravene the ethical standards. Let’s take a look at the situation with PT Anugerah Rejeki Nusantara (PT ARN), one of those plantations:
  • No deforestation. Wilmar has committed to end deforestation in High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value forest. The definition is quite broad and includes most forest that has not been cleared within the last ten years. PT ARN’s concession is an ecologically-rich area, largely forested, with some grassland and swamps.
  • No peat. Wilmar says it will not start plantations on peat of any depth. Data from Wetlands International shows intermittent shallow and medium peat within PT ARN’s concession.
  • Respect the rights of local and indigenous people to give or withhold their Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC). PT ARN has been trying to convince communities in the area to hand over their land for two years now, but many people are still determinedly opposed. A recent study in four villages affected by PT ARN revealed that the company was falling far short of FPIC principles. Where people have clearly not consented, the company keeps making its approaches, until the community feels it really has no choice. Often Wilmar only speaks with community and clan leaders individually, which was causing the seeds of conflict within the village. Security forces brought to discussions also have an intimidating effect. There are other tools of deception too – in one village PT ARN’s Public Relations Manager even pretended to be a priest to get the people’s support.
Wilmar’s policy covers a number of other areas, such as workers’ rights and dealing with land conflict. The full text can be read here.

What about the Ganda Group?

Wilmar commits itself to stop deforestation and development on peat immediately, and will not start buying from any suppliers who are deforesting or developing peat. Existing suppliers have until the end of 2015 to comply. Of particular interest is to see how this will affect the Ganda Group (Agro Mandiri Semesta Plantations), a palm oil company which sells its produce to Wilmar.
Wilmar has a special relationship with Ganda Group, which is owned by Ganda Sitorus, the younger brother of Wilmar founder Martua Sitorus. In recent years the Ganda Group have taken over plantations which do not meet Wilmar’s previous ethical commitments to the RSPO and IFC. The most notorious case is in Jambi, Sumatra, where after going through the motions of two years of IFC-facilitated mediation to resolve a land conflict with the indigenous Suku Anak Dalam Batin Sembilan, Wilmar suddenly sold it’s subsidiary PT Asiatic Persada to the Ganda Group, rather than abide by any agreements produced by that mediation. On Saturday 7th December, the Ganda Group once again violently evicted Suku Anak Dalam communities which had reoccupied their ancestral land in the plantation.
The Ganda Group also has plans for two plantations in Merauke: PT Agrinusa Persada Mulia and PT Agriprima Cipta Persada. These companies are also accused of deceiving local villagers and paying shockingly low compensation rates, as well as clearing forest for an oil palm nursery before receiving a plantation permit. The plantations, which also involve clearing natural forest, would clearly not meet the RSPO standards which Wilmar has signed up to in its bid to be seen as a responsible company, but the Ganda Group is unencumbered by such commitments.
However now Wilmar’s policy states that it it won’t be buying from companies that are clearing forests. Does that mean the Ganda Group are going to have to look elsewhere to sell their tainted palm oil?
AwasMIFEE wrote to Wilmar on 6th December to ask whether its new ethical policy would mean that it would be cancelling its plans in Merauke. No response was received by the time this article was published.
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3) Indonesia: Fear for the safety of Mr. Yohanes Boseren, arbitrarily detained and in poor health following ill-treatment


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