Joint teams to speed up response to environmental destruction

Jointteams to speed up response to environmental destruction

Source: The Jakarta Post, 01 May 2004


Acknowledgingthe flaws in law enforcement for environmental crimes, the government hasestablished a joint team of environmental experts, police officers and stateprosecutors to speed up and improve the investigations into such crimes.

“Bycreating a team that works under the same roof, we hope that they will have acommon understanding when identifying environmental crimes and that the legalsteps in such cases can be accelerated,” State Minister for the EnvironmentNabiel Makarim said on Friday after signing an agreement on the formation of theteam with National Police chief Gen. Da’i Bachtiar and Attorney General M.A.Rachman.

The teamwill have the authority to investigate and prosecute those suspected of beinginvolved in environmental crimes, without having to go through the bureaucraticprocedures at the police and prosecutors’ offices.

Nabielcited examples of case files being submitted to prosecutors’ offices only to bereturned due to inadequate evidence.

“Havingexperts, police and prosecutors in the same office will hopefully give each ofthem a more open view, and therefore help establish a common understanding whendealing with environmental cases,” Nabiel said.

Da’isaid one of the reasons environmental crimes were difficult to prosecute wasbecause they were so dissimilar from conventional crimes.

“Itrequires a scientific investigation, which many law enforcers have no idea about.Furthermore, most environmental crimes have no immediate impact, making themharder to prove,” he said.

The team,to be headquartered at the Office of the State Minister for the Environment,will consist of five groups. Each group will have a police officer, a prosecutor,a civil investigator, an environmental expert and a crime scene expert.

Theywill focus their work on 15 provinces where environmental destruction isconsidered to be the most prevalent.

“Theywill coordinate with us here (in Jakarta) to report on environmental cases. Theywere trained together here about six months ago on environmental issues,”he said.

Accordingto the office of the state minister, 48 environmental cases had been brought tocourt since 2001. Four cases have been appealed to the Supreme Court, four arebeing appealed at a high court, while the rest are still being tried.

Thestate minister has also proposed to the Supreme Court that 12 judges be trainedand assigned to preside over environmental cases in the courts.

Environmentaldestruction, including illegal logging and the intentional setting of forestfires, has been blamed for many of the natural disasters that have killedthousands of people and destroyed thousands of homes around the country over thepast few years.

The Ministry of Forestryplans to issue a regulation in lieu of law to set up a special team with theauthority to fight illegal logging.


Story by TonyHotland


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