08 November 2009

Customary Land Rights - A lesson from Indonesia

ILO pushes govt on customary land rights The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Wed, 10/28/2009 10:27 PM | National The government must ratify Convention No. 169/1989 on Indigenous and Tribal People, to put an end to frequent conflicts between customary communities and corporations regarding land use, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and an alliance of indigenous people said Wednesday.

A senior specialist on international labor standards from ILO New Delhi, Coen Kompier, said the convention provided broad principles for the government to regulate the rights of ownership and possession over lands traditionally occupied by customary communities.

Every year conflicts arise across Indonesia between members of customary communities and corporations occupying their territory with government concessions. In some cases such conflicts have resulted in the criminalization or deaths of community members.

Currently there is no law regulating the land rights of customary communities. Concessions, on the other hand, are regulated in several laws, including the 2009 Mining Law and the 1999 Forestry Law.

By ratifying the ILO convention, the government would prevent many such conflicts, misunderstanding and discrimination, Kompier said.

“The convention can help to promote peaceful and sustainable development,” he told the Post on the sidelines of a workshop on the convention.

Under the ILO convention, removing customary communities from their territories can only be conducted under exceptional circumstances that satisfy specific criteria.

“The main principle is that the people cannot be removed from their land,” Kompier said.