Government wins in forest fire case

Government wins in forest fire case

09 February 2017

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INONESIA -—  The high court had ordered the firm to pay Rp 78.5 billion in damages, a fraction of the Rp 7.8 trillion fine sought by the ministry when it first filed the civil suit against BMH in 2015.

However, none of the companies have paid the fines or compensation.

The ministry’s law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, acknowledged that it was a challenge for the ministry to enforce verdicts. It takes time for verdicts to be enforced because the ministry has to wait for the official record of the verdict to be available, which can take months to more than a year. Moreover, there is no standard operating procedure for the enforcement of forest-related rulings. The ministry is pushing for the Supreme Court to issue a regulation on its judges to help with the enforcement of penalties.

“We’re still fighting [to get the companies to pay the fines],” he said, adding that the ministry was also aiming to enforce a verdict against palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, which was implicated in a case that reached a final and binding verdict in September 2015 at the Supreme Court. Kallista Alam had been ordered to pay a Rp 366 billion fine for illegally burning large swathes of Tripa forest in Aceh.

After more than one year since the Supreme Court ruling, the company has yet to pay the fine. It has also been nearly three years since mining company PT Selat Nasik Indokwarsa was found guilty of environment damage on Belitung Island. The company was ordered to pay Rp 31.5 billion in fines, but also has yet to pay the government.

“The company asked to make payments over 15 years. But we can’t allow that,” the ministry’s environmental dispute settlement director, Jasmin Ragil Utomo said.


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