Law enforcement, deforestation and climate change
Presenting in front of around 55 representatives of different civil society organizations working on forestry and climate change together with NICFI, the Director General explained the complexity of law enforcement efforts to address forest-related crimes in Indonesia.
He stressed that in many cases, forest-related crimes are not single cause – single actor type of crimes. Illegal logging, forest encroachment, forest fires and wildlife crime are many times connected to corruption and money laundering.
From “Follow the log” to “Follow the money”
The crimes are also rarely done by individual actors but usually by organized groups, corporations, transnational actors and even involving high officials.
– The old “follow the log” approach usually only succeeded to arrest the small field operators but failed to catch the real big actors, Director General Sani explained.
The Director General and the panellists speaking after him recognized that without effective law enforcement action, destruction to forests and other natural resources will continue. They also stressed the need to “follow the money”.
DG Law Enforcement established to protect Indonesia’s natural resources
During the celebration of the World Environment Day on 5 June 2015, President Joko Widodo declared a commitment to seriously fight against crimes that destroy Indonesia’s natural resources.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF), as the ministerial focal point for forest and environment protection, established a new Directorate General on Law Enforcement to particularly address forest-related crimes.
Operations Room in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry
The Directorate General is building an “Operations Room”, which will serve as a center for excellence in law enforcement.
– The room is constructed to provide several functions, such as analytics, information processing and presentation; intelligent control room platform; facilitating telecommunication and network; drone and surveillance; as well as social media applications. This technology will enable faster response when crimes occur, the Director General told the participants.
Besides technology for monitoring, response and coordination, the directorate general has also strengthened the Environment and Forestry Law Enforcement Implementing Agency (BPPLHK) through placing 1723 forest rangers and 238 civil investigators to support BPPLHK in Sumatera, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Jawa and Lesser Sunda Island and Molucca and Papua regions.
A Memorandum of Understanding on the «multi-door approach» was signed by Indonesian National Police Chief, Indonesia’s Attorney General, Minister of Environment, Minister of Forestry, Minister of Finance, and Head of PPATK (the Indonesian Financial Report and Analysis Center) on 20th May 2013.
The multi-door approach is aimed at addressing commonly multi-edges natural resources/environment-related crimes by enacting various relevant regulations that enable law enforcers to follow the money and assets.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has later strengthened the cooperation with other law enforcing institutions like the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the National Armed Forces, and Institution for Witness and Victim Protection (LPSK).
Criminal and civil law enforcement – but also a need for “softer approaches”
The Director General explained the participants how the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is now actively implementing joint operations with relevant institutions to monitor forest areas, particularly in national parks and conservation areas.
The institutions work together to prevent illegal logging, forest and land fires, forest encroachment, environmental pollution and wildlife poaching.
– On legal action, the Ministry works with law enforcers to apply compliance monitoring to plantation companies and give administrative sanctions to violators through judicial process, as well as criminal and civil law enforcement, said the Director General.
But according to the Drector General, the underlying problem of all those crimes is human behavior. Therefore, besides the ‘hard approach’ of giving legal sanctions to violators, law enforcement should also embrace a more ‘soft approach’ through awareness raising and education.
Law enforcement to curb forest crimes is still a long journey and is still facing some challenges such as techniques for proving the cases, budget, human resources, access to locations, overlapping policies and execution of verdict. NICFI is in dialogue with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and other partners on how to further strengthen the work in this field.