Indonesia: don’t go soft on environmental crime!

Fires in Sumatra + caption CORRUPTION Fires in Sumatra (© Feri Irawan / Collage RdR)
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Das Gesetz trat am 17. September 2019 in Kraft.

An assault on nature is looming at the highest level of the Indonesian government: parliament is moving to cripple the country’s independent anti-corruption agency and revise the penal code. This would make it harder to investigate environmental crimes and convict perpetrators. Tell President Joko Widodo to stop the legislation.

Call to action

To: Indonesian President Joko Widodo

“Do not allow the fight against corruption and environmental crime to be crippled. Reject the harmful legislation.”

Read letter

In Indonesia, two major pieces of legislation are driving thousands of protesters onto the streets. Both pose a serious threat to the environment:

- The move to strip Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency of its independence would be a devastating blow. Until now, investigators have been able to collect evidence against companies and have even put corrupt politicians behind bars. This could be history if they are subordinated to parliament and dependent on the police and public prosecutors – it would become a government agency, staffed by the very civil servants it was charged with monitoring, rendering it toothless against the rampant corruption of Indonesia’s judicial system.

- The amendment of Indonesia’s criminal code would make it harder to prosecute companies that violate environmental laws. Instead of holding plantation managers who give the orders for large-scale arson accountable, only the perpetrators at the very lowest level who actually lit the match would be prosecuted.

Indonesia is at a crossroads in protecting its forests: While President Joko Widodo banned further palm oil plantations on peat soils, arsonists have still torched vast forest areas on behalf of palm oil companies. At a time when we need to protect forests as a crucial defense against climate change, the fires have made Indonesia one of the biggest carbon emitters in 2019.

If the new legislation were to take effect, the pendulum will swing in the direction of environmental destruction: Offenders can increasingly count on getting away with crimes with impunity.

Please tell President Joko Widodo to reject the legislation.

Back­ground Letter

To: Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Dear Mr. President,

Since taking office, you have moved to stop the destruction of rainforests and peat forests and hold companies accountable for violating environmental laws. These steps have been welcomed by conservationists around the world.

It is with great concern that we now see that the Indonesian parliament is moving to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and revise the criminal code – moves that pose a major threat to the environment.

Thanks to its independence, the KPK has been effective in taking action against companies and individuals who violate laws when awarding oil palm concessions.

Until now it has been possible to bring those responsible for environmental crimes, such as companies who commission arson, to justice.

All of this is now in danger.

We call on you to reject legislation that would be harmful to the environment and human rights. This would greatly enhance your personal international reputation and that of Indonesia – especially in view of the global climate crisis, which makes the protection of forests crucial.

Yours faithfully,

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