Will Indonesia’s Economic Development Come at the Expense of Human Rights?

Paris-Jakarta, 19 June 2014 – Land conflicts between farmers and plantation owners, mining companies, and developers are raging across Indonesia. In the absence of a clear and strong legal framework to regulate land rights, these conflicts have become a major source of lethal violence and criminalisation targeting in particular community leaders and those who defend their rights, including NGO activists, lawyers and journalists. In 2013 alone, 21 farmers died in land conflict areas, and 239 people were arrested. These issues are outlined in a report released today by FIDH and its member organisation in Indonesia, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence – KontraS.

The Indonesian Government should urgently review its laws, policies and practices to ensure that the country’s economic development is truly people-centered and not conducted at the expense of its citizens’ rights, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. The Indonesian authorities’ crackdown on those who peacefully protest against human rights abuses resulting from unregulated development is unacceptable”.

Conflicts over natural resources have become the main cause of human rights violations in Indonesia, with acts of repression against citizens demanding the respect of their human rights being reported daily in 2013. According to the Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA), the same year, 369 cases of agrarian conflicts were recorded and 139,874 households were evicted from their lands.

Companies are encouraged by state policies to seize more and more land. Those defending land rights have been branded “enemies of development”. In 2011, the Indonesian government launched a Master-plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI)1, calling for more and more large-scale investments, including massive land deals.

MP3EI has led to further marginalization of the poor and indigenous people. The government has been further strengthening this plan with regulations and laws in favour of businesses and completely leaves out respect for human rights, said Haris Azhar, KontraS Coordinator. The Government should put this plan on hold until it has engaged with all stakeholders to ensure that its policies do not lead to further dispossession and marginalization.

This report, which follows an international fact-finding mission, was sent to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR Committee) in April 2014. On 26 May 2014, the CESCR Committee echoed many of FIDH’s and KontraS’ concerns (see CESCR’s conclusions) with regard to the human rights impacts of large-scale development projects and investments.

Audrey Couprie (English, French, Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 48 05 91 57 (Paris)

Read the report Indonesia : No Development Without Rights

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