October 26, 2018

Leuser peat violator to be hit with parallel legal actions

( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has confirmed that her law enforcement team is in the process of executing the Supreme Court ruling on PT Kallista Alam, a palm oil company whose concession lies in Leuser Ecosystem, with regard to peat fires that occurred in 2012.

The judicial process of this case has been very complicated during the period from 2012-2018. Most controversial of all was a ruling made by the Meulaboh District Court in April this year which overturned the prior Supreme Court ruling which had permanent legal force.

The ministry appealed the Meulaboh District Court's decision, and in early October this contentious ruling was itself duly overturned by the High Court of Aceh, meaning that PT Kallista Alam was still required to pay IDR 336 billion, now equivalent to around USD22.4 million. 

“As the plaintiff, the ministry is processing the execution of the Supreme Court's ruling,” Minister Nurbaya explained on the sidelines of an intergovernmental review meeting on the global marine environment in Nusa Dua, Bali (Oct 26).

She went on to say that the execution of the ruling against PT Kallista Alam falls under the absolute authority of the Head of the Meulaboh District Court with no intervention by either the Aceh High Court or even the Supreme Court allowed.

“If PT Kallista Alam were to file another appeal, the ministry would still process the execution of the Supreme Court ruling,” the minister pointed out.

Meanwhile, as these tangled legal proceedings proceed, PT Kallista Alam is still clearing the forested peatlands in its concession, as seen in the Planet Explorer images below presented by the minister. 

Parallel law enforcement 

Minister Nurbaya also emphasized that the ongoing peat violations being committed by PT Kallista Alam will soon be subject to a new law enforcement process, part of which involves the use of spatial evidence to highlight these new peat violations.

The location of the peat forests being cleared by PT Kallista Alam in its concession, which consist of good forest cover and are inhabited by the critically-endangered Sumatran orangutan, is shown in the following photos (Jun 4).

“The process of executing the Supreme Court’s ruling is being undertaken in parallel with the new law enforcement measures against PT Kallista Alam,” the minister asserted.

President Joko Widodo placed a ban on new peat drainage practices, among other reasons, to prevent new sources of future peat fires, by signing a revised government regulation in early December 2016.

As such, the new peat development being carried out by PT Kallista Alam constitutes a clear violation of the Presidents' ban, exacerbated by the fact that it is still being done even after the recent imposition of the moratorium on palm oil expansion involving good forest cover.