Forests must be utilized and used in an appropriate and sustainable way by considering ecological, social and economic functions and ensuring the continuity of forests for the present and future generations. Forest destruction, however, has become an organized and transnational crime which has an extraordinary impact. Therefore, Law No. 18/2013 of 6 August 2013 (hereinafter referred to as 'Law No. 18/2013') has been stipulated, containing provisions concerning the prevention and eradication of forest destruction. Law No. 18/2013 shall take effect on the date of promulgation, which is 6 August 2013.
Forest destruction is a process, method or act of destroying forest through illegal logging, illegal use of forest land, or use of permit contradicting the purpose and aim of the permit in forest land. Eradication of forest destruction is every effort made to take legal steps against the destroying of forest.
The scope of prevention and eradication of forest destruction covers (a) prevention, (b) eradication, (c) institution, (d) public participation, (e) international cooperation, (f) protection of witnesses, reporters and informants, (g) financing, and (h) criminal provisions.
(A) Prevention of forest destruction
To prevent forest destruction, the government shall make policies in the form of:
- Cross-sectoral coordination in preventing and eradicating forest destruction.
- Providing apparatuses to protect forests
- Incentives for parties contributing to forest conservation
- Directory maps of forest areas and/or geographical coordinates as a judicial basis of forest borders
- Providing facilities and infrastructures to prevent and eradicate forest destruction
The prevention of forest destruction shall be done by the public, legal entities, and/or cooperatives obtaining forest utilization permits.
(B) Eradication of forest destruction
The eradication of forest destruction shall be done by taking legal measures against perpetrators of forest destruction. The legal measures cover (preliminary) investigation, indictment and examination in court session. People living in and around forest land who are felling protected trees for own interest need a permit from the authorized official according to the law and regulation. Depending on the type of violation, besides criminal sanction also other sanctions can be applied in the form of government coercion, penalty payment, and/or revocation of permit. Law No. 18/2013 contains several provisions concerning prohibited acts.
Civil servant investigators (hereinafter abbreviated into 'PPNS') are given special authority as investigators as referred to in the Penal Code. Their jurisdiction covers the entire territory of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia. PPNS shall inform public prosecutors about the start of investigation and hand the results to them. Investigators have the authority to ask the communication executing agency for information. They also have, as well as judges, the authority to ask for information from banks about the financial condition of suspects/defendants.
To accelerate the settlement of forest destruction cases, investigators shall complete and hand dossiers to public prosecutors no later than 60 (sixty) days after the start of investigation. The period can be extended to a maximum of 30 (thirty) days. In turn, public prosecutors shall delegate cases to court no later than 25 (twenty-five) days after the investigation has been completed. The court shall examine the case and shall make a decision no later than 45 (forty-five) working days after receiving the case form public prosecutors. In case of appeal against the court's verdict regarding forest destruction, a decision will be made no later than 30 (thirty) working days. In case of appeal against the court's verdict regarding illegal logging, a decision will follow in 50 (fifty) working days.
(C) Forest destruction prevention and eradication institution
To prevent and eradicate forest destruction, the President shall form an institution. The institution shall report the results of its work to the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia at least once in 6 (six) months. The institution shall be formed no later than 2 (two) years after promulgation, which will be 6 August 2015.
(D) Public participation
The public have several rights, such as a right to good and healthy environments, but they also have obligations, such as keep and maintaining the conservation of the forests.
(E) International cooperation
The government can establish international cooperation with other countries in preventing and eradicating forest destruction by considering and protecting national interest. The cooperation can be bilateral, regional or multilateral. Purposes of the cooperation can be:
- Manage forests in a sustainable way
- Conserve and restore forest land
- Empower people
- Strengthen the internationally-recognized system of verifying and certifying wood legality
The government shall encourage international cooperation by funding from international community and international private investment.
Plans for budget to eradicate forest destruction will be made by the institution as meant under C.
(G) Protection of witnesses, reporters and informants
The protection of witnesses, reporters and informants covers:
- The protection of their lives, families and wealth, and the state of being free from threats
- The provision of information on court's verdict
- Notification in case the convict is set free
Reporters and informants cannot be sued legally, neither by the penal code or civil code, for their reports and testimonies.
(H) Criminal provisions
The criminal provisions range from cutting trees without an utilization permit to loading and transporting illegal wood.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.