The Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Judicial Commission participated in a public discussion held by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in Jakarta recently to brainstorm on how to kick-start stalled enforcement of the Environmental Law, especially in dealing with environmental crimes.
Walhi executive director Yaya Nur Hidayati said recently that Indonesia had a law to regulate the environment, but implementation was not efficient. She lamented that government officials lacked awareness about protocol and channels for reporting environmental crimes to initiate immediate investigation.
“The police immediately investigate when a murder occurs,” she said earlier this week. There should be the same sense of urgency for environment damage, she said, adding that officials should not just wait to receive complaints before taking action.
She cited the wait-and-see culture among ministry and other agency officials, who take no action until a formal report has been lodged with them by law enforcers and NGOs.
KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif expressed a similar opinion. He was of the opinion that frontline agencies, such as the police, needed to improve their support for prevailing regulations on the environment.
“There are only few specifically trained institutions,” he explained, adding that greater awareness and knowledge of the problem must be instilled among the relevant law enforcers.
Yaya pointed out that civil service investigators at every ministry worked by themselves on a basis of current need. She proposed the creation of a specialized task force as a solution.
“An integrated task force could be trained to identify environmental problems more comprehensively,” Yaya explained.
“This is particularly true in cases of systematic environmental crime with vast negative impact perpetrated by corporations,” she said.
Yaya added that it was possible to impose a variety of punitive measures on corporations under the law.
Not many cases against corporations are brought to court. Law Enforcement Director General Rasio Ridho Sani at the Environment and Forestry Ministry said the majority of cases brought to court by his team in the last two years did not involve corporations but individuals.
He said it was not easy to go after corporations because they had power and could afford many lawyers to represent them in court, as well as experts to testify on their behalf.
“We’re going after corporations slowly, at our own pace,” Rasio said. “If we keep working, gain more experience, of course this will help us in the future.” (stu)