Jakarta – The verdict newly ruled by South Jakarta State Court has given a new hope on forest and land fires law enforcement in Indonesia. In a hearing Wednesday, the panel judges declared PT. National Sago Prima (NSP) liable and responsible for forest and land fires in their operational area; in a case against and filed by the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

The court charges PT. NSP at least Rp 1 trillion rupiah in total for compensation and environmental rehabilitation. PT. NSP will pay Rp 319 billion for ecological damages and economic loss. The company is also instructed to implement environmental rehabilitation worth Rp 753 billion in the 3.000 hectare of forest in which they’re operating in. The charge is higher than previous forest and land fires. However, the sequestration petition proposed by environment and forestry ministry was rejected by judges.

The coalition praises the judges saying the ruling could be the beginning of the long haul of government’s attempts to discipline irresponsible corporations who burn forest and land. The coalition also says that PT. NSP should respect and obey the verdict. Meanwhile, the Environment and Forestry’s attorney Patra M. Zen says the verdict indicates that forest and fires must be put to stop, adding that environmental protection is the major priority in the ministry.

PT. NSP is part of Sampoerna Agro Group that operates based on Forestry Ministry Decree (Nomor: SK.77/Menhut-II/2013) on 4 February 2013 on Tentang Penetapan Batas Areal Kerja Izin Usaha Pemanfaatan Hasil Hutan Bukan Kayu (IUPHH-BK) Pada Hutan Tanaman Industri Dalam Hutan Tanaman (Sagu) PT. NATIONAL SAGO PRIMA. The company owns concession of 21.418 hectare in Meranti Islands District of Riau Province. In 2014, the company was also convicted in a similar case by Bengkalis State Court. The case is still ongoing in Supreme Court.

Interesting point from the verdict is that the judges’ consideration which stated that PT. NSP is still responsible in their concession, whether or not caused by the company. The judges’ point refers to Permenhut No. 12 Tahun 2009 and other related regulations. The verdict is said would open be the light for similar cases in the future and wouldn’t only focus on enforcing the corporations to compensate for state loss but also to force the corporations to operate correctly, in particular in supervising their concessions from fires.

Pertaining the verdict, the coalition hence takes stance in:
1. Recommending the environment and forestry ministry to ensure and to monitor the further steps PT. NSP is likely to take, and supervise that the company implement the verdict ruled by the court.

2. Urging the environment and forestry ministry to proceed lawful action towards the corporations involved within forest fires in 2015.
3. Urging the ministry to take over 15 corporations that allegedly participated in firing land and forest in 2015 as well as the case dismissed by Riau Police in 2016.
4. Recommending the President to issue presidential decree in relation to the revision 2014 Constitutional Law (MK No 18/PUU-XII/2014). The decree, if issued, would avoid SP3 issuance (warrant termination of investigation), which happened to forest fire case in Riau.

Coalition of Anti-Forest Mafia
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