Awyu indigenous community sue Papua DPMPTSP Office over right to information about palm oil company’s permit

The Investment and One-Stop Integrated Service Office (DPMPTSP) in Papua seems to be restricting and blocking access to information by the indigenous community of Awyu regarding the company PT Indo Asiana Letari (PT IAL), specifically information related to the PT IAL’s Plantation Business license. The palm oil company operates in the Awyu’s customary land around Digoel and Mappi Rivers in Boven Digoel Regency, Papua Province. It is planning to replace customary forests with palm oil plantations. According to the community, the DPMPTSP is issuing permits without the knowledge of the public.

On 26 July 2022, the representative of the Awyu indigenous community, Hendrikus Woro, travel from Boven Digoel to the DPMPTSP office in Jayapura. It is a long trip of about 352 kilometres and took him one hour by aeroplane. Mr Hendrikus Woro explained the purpose of his visit to the DPMPTSP officer and submitted a letter of request to obtain information about the licensing of PT Indo Asiana Lestari. However, the response letter from the Head of the Division of Licensing and Non-Licensing Services of DPMPTSP Papua Province from 8 August 2022 and the response letter from 30 September 2022, did not provide the information requested.

In fact, DPMPTSP officials asked Hendrikus to complete the requirements known to the village head, district, local government, and indigenous community institutions, not in accordance with the provisions. LBH Papua Director, Emanuel Gobay, said that the information requested by DMPTSP was burdensome for applicants. According to him, Law No. 14/2008 on Public Information Disclosure does not regulate these requirements. According to the Information Disclosure Law, DPMPTSP is obliged to provide information of public nature under the provisions of Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution and Article 7 of Law No. 14 of 2008 concerning Public Information Disclosure. The action of the Head of the DPMPTSP of not providing public information violates the right to information.

To fight for their rights, Awyu indigenous community through its Hendikus Woro, from Yare village, Fofi District, Boven Digoel Regency, sued the Papua Province DPMPTSP to the Papua Province Public Information Commission (KIP). They hope KIP can decide and grant their request. Public information must be disclosed to the applicant and stated that the DPMPTSP of Papua Province was wrong.   

LBH Papua and Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat provided legal counsel to Hendrikus Woro regarding the alleged restriction and closure of public information by Papua Province DPMPTSP officials. LBH explained, “Under Article 11 paragraph 1 letter b of Law Number 14/2008 on Public Information Disclosure, the information requested by the applicant is information that must be available at all times. It is also regulated in the Public Information Commission (KIP) regulation Number 1 of 2021 concerning Public Information Service Standards.” DPMPTSP’s action of not providing information to interested applicants is a violation. 

Background

Since 2019, Hendrikus and the Awyu indigenous community have been concerned about the loss of customary forest due to PT IAL’s operations. There have been pros and cons, criminalisation efforts, and threats of violence against residents involving police officers and company operators.

Based on information circulating that the Foreign Capital Company (PMA) PT Indo Siana Lestari from Malaysia has obtained a location permit issued by the Regent of Boven Digoel and a Plantation Business permit issued by the DPMPTSP of Papua Province. However, the Awyu indigenous community has never received the permit information document and has never approved the company’s plan. 

IAL’s concession is part of the Tanah Merah megaproject that is already dogged by allegations that key operating permits have been falsified. And according to Hendrikus Woro, the problems with PT IAL began already in 2017 when it started approaching local communities.

For more detailed background information see Mongabay’s article from 2021.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: areas close to Digoel and Mappi rivers (-7.064842268630767, 140.08762900620528)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Province, Boven Digoel Regency
total number of victims: dozens
period of incident: 01.08.2017 – 30.10.2022
perpetrator: palm oil company
perpetrator details: PT Indo Asiana Letari (PT IAL)
Issues: access to information, cultural rights, food, freedom of peaceful assembly, indigenous peoples
Sources: https://pusaka.or.id/masyarakat-adat-awyu-gugat-dpmptsp-provinsi-papua-terkait-transparansi-informasi-perizinan/, https://betahita.id/news/detail/8060/papua-suku-awyu-ajukan-sengketa-informasi-atas-perusahaan-sawit.html?v=1666234888 Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Hendrikus Woromaleunknownindigenous, activistright to information, cultural rights
dozensunknown unknown unknown indigenousright to information, cultural rights