Enviromental Activists in Padang Demand Maximum Penalty for Forest Burners

Activists of Protection of Forest & Fauna (PROFAUNA) Indonesia and several other communities staged a demonstration in front of West Sumatra House of Representatives, demanding the government to give legal penalty for forest burners, on Monday (19/10/2015). Among the communities joining PROFAUNA were Forkompa Unand, KCA-LH Raflesia FMIPA Unand, and Komma FP Unand.

The demand was conveyed in a theatrical act and moderate demonstration. The activists set up large banners saying 'Hukum Berat Pelaku Pembakaran hutan' ('Punish Forest Burners') and some other posters about forest conservation.

"Forest fires in different places in the country, especially in Sumatra, has turned into serious threat. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry stated that the size of land burned in Sumatra and Borneo has expanded into more than 1.7 million hectares," said Yonis Afandi, the Coordinator of PROFAUNA's Bukittinggi Chapter, who organized the demonstration. Research also says that Indonesia's estimated loss due to the fires reached IDR 200 trillion. This excludes the economic, health, and social problems inflicted by the society.

The fires in Sumatra is not a new phenomenon. Since the 1960s, Sumatra and Borneo have had fires. Half a century later, the government seems to have learned nothing from the past. The government seems to be turning its back on the people's distress ,while keep on issuing concession permits for palm oil industry. Even when the natural forest cover is shrinking rapidly due to te expansion of palm oil plantations, the government ... ignorant. Ironically, the government also talks big about Indonesia's commitment in conserving the forest.

Article 108 of Law no.32/2009 concerning Environmental Protection and Management mentions that anybody who burns land and forest is liable to prison sentence of minimum 1 year and amximum 13 years, and a minimum fines of IDR 3 billion and maximum IDR 10 billion. If all the convicted corporates are to be fined in maximum numbers, it is still far from the loss they have caused for the country and people.

Up to 12 October 2015, the Police of Indonesia has received 244 reports related to forest and land burning. The police has declared 12 corporates and 209 individuals responsible for the fires in Sumatra and Borneo. However, until the demonstration today, there is still no reassurance if maximum penalty would actually be given to them.

PROFAUNA Indonesia urges the local and state governments to cope with the current fires in the best possible ways. The effort should be supported with law enforcement, by giving maximum sentences for all the liable parties, be it local or foreign corporates. In addition, the government must immediately establish a framework to prevent future recurrent of forest fires.

© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats