As Indonesia enters the forest fire and haze season, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has received the backing of both the National Police and the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, in preventing the environmental and diplomatic crisis which tends to follow.
“The national police force strongly supports the efforts of the ministry to handle the forest fire cases, because at the end of the day, there is a criminal element in the intentional burning of forests,” Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Wednesday (07/09).
He emphasized provincial and district police are not able to issue warrants to terminate forest fire investigations and that authority can only come from the National Police.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has confirmed it will continue the multi-door law enforcement approach in which the ministry handles administrative and civil-related law violations, while criminal cases will be submitted to the police.
The KPK for its part is investigating peatland and forest fires, particularly focusing on permit issuance and land conversions, after committing to forest governance in the wake of 2013’s historic haze crisis.
“The commission considers the forest and land sector an important one. The KPK has signed a memorandum of understanding with 12 ministries and agencies in 2013 to monitor Indonesian forests,” Priharsa Nugraha, a spokesman for the anti-corruption agency, said.
Forest governance is essential to managing social conflict, he added, although the commission’s authority is limited as it is only able to prosecute those who are found to be corrupt.
“We can only take action if companies are found to bribe their way out to get a license and permit,” he said.