Pusaka Press Release: Urging the State and Corporations to Protect and Respect Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Papua

The Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation has documented the situation in Papua from April 2020 to the present, June 2020, and has uncovered cases of violence, arrests, destruction of property, internal displacement, intimidation and death threats experienced by indigenous peoples and Environmental Human Rights Defenders, namely: the Moskona indigenous people in the Regency of Teluk Bintuni (April 2020), Aifat indigenous people in Maybrat Regency (April May 2020), Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Kampung Ikana, Kais Darat, South Sorong Regency (June 2020), and in Kali Kao, Jair District, Boven Digoel Regency (June 2020), Papua Province. Some cases involve recurring violence against Environmental Human Rights Defenders.

Based on reports and investigations we have carried out, these alarming cases of violence, which all occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, seem to be related to indigenous peoples and Environmental Human Rights Defenders having taken a stance to speak out and defend fundamental rights, the right to life, land rights, the right to the environment, the right to food, the right to their livelihoods, which are at risk of being lost or taken from them, to serve the vested interests of corporations and the accumulation of capital in the palm oil plantation and logging industries.

Environmental Human Rights Defenders are the vanguard of the struggle for environmental sustainability and human survival on earth. The state has the obligation to protect and respect the rights of Environmental Human Rights Defenders, as regulated and guaranteed in international policies and legislation, including Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (December 1998); Article 28C of the 1945 constitution; Article 100 of Law Number 39 of 1999 concerning Human Rights; Law No. 11 of 2005 concerning Ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Article 10 of Law No. 13 of 2006 concerning Protection of Witnesses and Victims; Article 66 of Law Number 32 of 2008 concerning Environmental Protection and Management; Article 4 of Law No. 14 of 2008 concerning Transparency of Public Information; Articles 9 and 11 of Law No. 16 of 2011 concerning Legal Aid.

Likewise, corporations have the obligation and responsibility to respect the rights of Environmental Human Rights Defenders, as stipulated in the International Declaration of Human Rights Defenders (1998); United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011); and best standards and corporate commitments on sustainable management.

In order to prevent violence and provide justice to indigenous peoples and Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Papua, we request and urge:

1. The Indonesian National Police must ensure legal protection for citizens and Environmental Human Rights Defenders, and strive to enforce the law in a serious and just manner when they receive reports from indigenous peoples or Human Rights Defenders;

2. The National Human Rights Commission should carry out its functions in accordance with Article 8, Article 9 and Article 10 of its Regulation No. 5 of 2015 concerning Protection of Human Rights Defenders, to monitor and take action to prevent various potential threats and violations of human rights related to business activities in Tanah Papua. It should also urge legal institutions to ensure legal protection for citizens and environmental human    rights    defenders;

3. National and regional governments should, to the greatest degree possible, carry out their obligations to prevent human rights violations and ensure everyone receives protection from threats/ acts of violence;

4. Corporations must respect the rights of Environmental Human Rights Defenders to speak out about their rights, and must not take actions that threaten the safety of Environmental Human Rights Defenders. They must also take responsibility for any incidents of violence that occur, whether they are directly involved or through other parties.

Jakarta, June 24, 2020