Awyu tribe appeals court decision in palm oil plantation dispute

The Awyu tribe in South Papua Province is continuing their fight against an oil palm plantation on their customary land. In February 2024, they appealed a court decision that rejected their lawsuit against the environmental permit issued to PT Indo Asiana Lestari (PT IAL).

The dispute began when the Awyu tribe discovered that PT IAL had been granted an environmental permit for a 36,096.4-hectare oil palm plantation on their land without their knowledge or consent. They argued that this violated their rights as indigenous people and filed a lawsuit against the permit in October 2023.

On November 2, 2023, the Jayapura Administrative Court rejected the Awyu tribe’s lawsuit. This decision sparked outrage from the Awyu tribe and environmental groups, who believed the court failed to follow proper procedures and ignored the tribe’s human rights.

In February 2024, the Awyu tribe, represented by the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Papua, took several steps to challenge the November decision:

  • Appeal filed: On February 20, LBH Papua filed an appeal with the Manado State Administrative Court (PTTUN Manado). They requested the court overturn the Jayapura Administrative Court’s decision and revoke the environmental permit for the PT IAL plantation.
  • LBH Papua submits report: On February 26, LBH Papua reported the Jayapura Administrative Court judges to the Judicial Commission. They accused the judges of violating the code of ethics and code of conduct by failing to follow the Supreme Court Regulation on environmental cases and disregarding the Awyu tribe’s human rights.

Arguments and Demands

LBH Papua has issued a press release on 20 February, which argues that the Jayapura Administrative Court:

  • Ignored proper procedures: The court allegedly failed to follow the guidelines outlined in the Supreme Court Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia Number 1 of 2023 for adjudicating environmental cases.
  • Violated the Awyu tribe’s human rights: LBH Papua claims the court decision infringes upon the Awyu tribe’s right to protect their customary land, as guaranteed by Article 6 paragraph (2) of Law Number 39 of 1999 concerning Human Rights.

LBH Papua has made three demands:

  1. PTTUN Manado judges overturn the decision of PTUN Jayapura.
  2. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court examine the Jayapura Administrative Court judges.
  3. The Judicial Commission monitor the PTTUN Manado judges as they hear the Awyu tribe’s appeal.