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Showing posts from May, 2005

Settlement Time

The government has elected to adopt a path of mediation for settlement of the Newmont case. A timely decision before the president visits the US? ON May 13, the Department of Finance held a closed-door meeting, not to discuss the state of the economy, but rather to discuss the ramifications of adopting a path of mediation to settle the government's lawsuit against PT Newmont Minahasa Raya on environmental destruction charges. The request for mediation was made by the South Jakarta District Court for a civil law case involving alleged environmental destruction in Buyat in North Sulawesi by Newmont. The case also carries criminal elements. "The indictment is still in the process of being completed," said Robert Ilat, chief of Prosecution of Special Crimes at the North Sulawesi High Prosecutor's Office. However, the meeting was primarily concerned with the civil lawsuit. On March 9, the government filed a civil suit against Newmont, demanding US$117.68 million in damage

Rahmat Witoelar: "If we are in the right, why should we be afraid?"

THE Buyat Bay pollution case, which lasted throughout 2004, is now heading towards an out-of-court settlement. Why did the government finally take that road? Tempo reporter Sukma N. Loppies and Abdul Manan met with Environment Minister Rahmat Witoelar last Friday for an interview. Excerpts: What is the government's position on the civil lawsuit against Newmont? We had taken civil and criminal legal action against the company. The criminal lawsuit was based on the suspicion that they had broken the law. Whether this is true or not depends on the court. Aside from suspicion of having broken the law, there were losses incurred. Essentially, the state sued them according to civil law because we felt the environment was damaged and the community suffered losses over there because of them. We are involved in the environmental part, the attorney general deals with the law. I am giving special authority to the Attorney General's Office. What happened at the May 13 meeting? The Buyat ca

Taking Offense

Human rights activists have condemned the "insult against the president" regulations, claiming they have no place in a democratic country. LAST Monday, student activist Wayan Gendo Suardana stood trial on charges of insulting the president. At one point during the hearing, Suardana stood from his seat and rushed out of the courtroom to meet with colleagues who had gathered outside the Denpasar District Court. Judicial panel chairperson, I Made Sudia seemed momentarily stunned, but then composed himself before bellowing: "Guards, secure the defendant!" whereupon the guards escorted Suardana back to the room to continue the hearing. Evidently, Suardana, 29, was upset with the court's decision to deny his request to have President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono summoned to give testimony during the trial. In fact, the court initially granted Suardana's request to have the president summoned. However, this decision was overruled by the High Court. Suardana was convinc

Removing a Stumbling Block

The Constitutional Court has revoked an article preventing any judicial review of laws issued before 1999. Some oppose it, many others welcome it. THE chance to question laws in the Constitutional Court is now indeed wide open. It results from the annulment of Article 50 of Law No. 24/2003 on the Constitutional Court, which regulates the institution's authority to review laws. In its session on April 12, the Constitutional Court declared the article in opposition to the 1945 Constitution. With this decision, all laws are automatically liable to judicial reviews, including that concerning capital punishment. Those that will apparently move soon are several non-governmental organizations for human rights like the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Imparsial, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, and the Human Rights Study and Advocacy Institute. They are preparing a judicial review of a number of laws stipulating the deat

An Icon from Calang

ONE morning last February, as usual, Dina Astita arrived in one of the emergency schools located at Calang City, Aceh Jaya, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. Before long, two Time magazine reporters arrived to conduct an interview with her. The conversation carried on for more than half an hour, touching on subjects from her students to her family. Dina has long since forgotten the interview that February 23, 2005. She was reminded of it only when a short message service arrived from a colleague in Jakarta, two weeks ago. The content of the message was surprising. The 34-year-old was featured in the April 18, 2005 edition of Time. She was considered one of the 100 most influential figures in the world today. In the magazine's report, Dina is listed in the same pages as the Dalai Lama (Tibetan spiritual leader), Bill Gates (Microsoft boss), Viktor Yuschenko (Ukrainian leader), and Michael Schumacher (Formula 1 race car driver). They are viewed as icons and heroes within their respective fie

Protecting the Whistleblowers

The police are now prioritizing investigation of corruption cases over defamation lawsuits. THE circular letter was sent by the National Police Headquarters at the beginning of last March to all regional police offices. The letter instructed the police rank and file to give priority to the handling of cases of corrupt practices if, at the same time, there were defamation lawsuits requiring their attention. Dated March 7, 2005, the letter was signed by Director III/Corrupt Practices and White Collar Crimes of the National Police Headquarters' Crime Investigation Agency, Brig. Gen. Indarto. "If the suspicion of corruption is proven, the job on the defamation lawsuit gets aborted," said Indarto. The emergence of the circular cannot be separated from the intervention of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Back on January 27, the Coalition of NGOs for Clean and Quality General Elections complained to the KPK, because its report to the KPK about suspected corruption am