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Papua needs its own customary court to prevent land grabbing


Chairman of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP)
version of the Extraordinary Congress, Dominikus Surabut. - Jubi/Islami

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua land is increasingly being targeted by investors, especially investors in oil palm plantations and mining. The Papuan Customary Council urges the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) to establish a customary court to protect the customary lands of indigenous peoples from land grabbing by companies.

The chairman of the Papuan Customary Council version of the Extraordinary Congress, Dominikus Surabut, stated that the customary court was expected to be a judicial institution that would decide disputes related to customary rights in accordance with the customary methods and mechanisms of each indigenous people.

Surabut said that the rampant investment in Papua had added to the complex problems faced by Indigenous Papuans. The issuance of various plantation and mining business permits in Papua often creates disputes between indigenous peoples and companies, and even conflicts among indigenous peoples.

“The compensation for land is sometimes not paid by the company. The takeover of customary lands by companies often makes indigenous peoples victims, even fatalities for defending their confiscated customary lands. [Those who defend customary lands] never get justice, even in the general court the cases are not resolved properly,” said Surabut to Jubi on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.

Surabut said that the MRP should not only be busy dealing with political affairs. “The MRP must have the courage to formulate and convey it to the authority, to follow up ulayat land disputes through the customary court. If it is brought to formal law, it is likely that indigenous peoples will lose,” he said.

Surabut also urged the MRP to coordinate with non-governmental organizations, academics, customary councils in each tribe, as well as various other customary institutions to share perceptions about the mechanism for resolving ulayat land disputes. “We need to be in the same wavelength on perceptions about customary methods and mechanisms so that the community can resolve problems in a complete and meaningful customary court,” he said.

Secretary to the Yeresiam Goa Tribe Robertino Hanebora said that the MRP as a cultural institution for the Indigenous Papuans must be observant of the problems of Indigenous Papuans. “What are the rights and responsibilities of indigenous peoples? Don’t just talk about saving the land and people of Papua so emptily,” he said.

He said the encouragement to establish a customary court was in accordance with the spirit of Law No. 21/2001 on Papua Special Autonomy (Otsus), which was amended by Law No. 2/2021 on the Second Amendment to Otsus Law. Provisions regarding customary judiciary have been contained in Article 50 and Article 51 of the Otsus Law.

“The implementation of the applicable rules must be formulated so that they have legality. And so that if there is a problem, the indigenous community can resolve it with the established customary court,” Hanebora said. (*)

Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Aryo Wisanggeni G

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