Monday, 30 March 2009

Government Mum On Rights Report

This article has direct relevance to the previous email. It is a safe bet that palm oil from West Kalimantan reaches the USA and will continue to do so unless someone there is concerned enough to take on this issue. No one is saying 'ban palm oil'. What is needed is fully sustainable palm oil.


March 30, 2009

Ismira Lutfia. The Jakarta Globe

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refused to respond to a United Nation’s report that states Jakarta’s failure to respect the rights of its indigenous peoples, arguing that it is under no obligation to do so.

The ministry also argued that there was no such thing as an indigenous person, as every Indonesian citizen was equal in the eyes of the Constitution.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in a letter to Indonesia’s Permanent Mission in Geneva, says it is “concerned” about the Indonesian government’s failure to respect the rights of indigenous people in their own forests and the increasing conflict between local people and palm oil plantations.

The letter said that the government also failed to provide information on the way it had followed up recommendations laid out by the committee in August 2007, despite being asked to do so within one year. The request was in response to a complaint from a coalition of nine local and one international nongovernmental organizations regarding a planned palm oil plantation project in West Kalimantan that threatened to encroach on local Dayak people’s land.

The UN letter also noted the “high number of conflicts arising each year throughout Indonesia between local communities and palm oil companies.”

Wiwiek Setyawati Firman, the ministry’s director for human rights and humanitarian affairs, rejected the UN’s process and said Indonesia had its own internal mechanism to deal with such issues, such as the National Commission on Human Rights.

Wiwiek also said that she had checked with the West Kalimantan administration, which said the project did not exist.