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#PROJECTPLANETTALKS: Omnibus Law: Is It Threatening Our Environment? With Syarifah Reihana

Law statue

Source: Tingey Injury Law Firm [1]

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For the past couple of weeks, the Omnibus Law has been gaining steam, but how much do you really know about the controversial bill and its effect on the future of our environment?

Last Sunday, we invited Syarifah Reihana, a lawyer and co-founder of Uncovering Indonesia to our IG Live in hopes to shed more light on the issue. Here’s the summary.

What is the Omnibus Law and why was it created?

Derived from the Latin word which means “to, for, by with or from everything”, an omnibus law is a single law that covers numerous different matters.

In response to Indonesia’s low investment due to many existing inefficiencies, the government introduced RUU Cipta Kerja (or Omnibus Law for Job Creation) last year with the purpose of stimulating economic growth by creating new jobs, raising foreign domestic investment (FDI), and cutting bureaucracy to make it easier for people to do business in Indonesia.

Why is it so controversial?

Early this month, thousands of protesters rallied in the street, demanding the government to revoke the bill, citing that it would harm workers and the environment in the long-run.

Some even claimed that the bill contained substance that lacked discussion and the law-making process itself was “flawed” due to the lack of transparency and public participation.

What are the implications of the Omnibus Law to AMDAL?

Source: Oskari Manninen [2]

Analisis Manajemen Dampak Lingkungan (AMDAL) assesses the environmental impact of particular business activity, especially businesses that exploit natural resources and change the form of the environment.

More simply put, AMDAL makes sure that businesses in Indonesia run sustainably and safely without damaging the environment.

However, the Omnibus Law takes away the power of certain parties to be involved in the forming and evaluation process of the AMDAL. According to the law, only those “who are directly impacted” now have a say, therefore excluding environmentalists, experts, and another public opinion.

More importantly, this may also weaken the purpose of AMDAL as the absence of voices from experts as well as activists can also lead to a reduced quality of analysis of the impact that may occur on the environment.

What are the implications of the Omnibus Law to Izin Lingkungan and the monitoring, managing, and prevention of environmental crimes?

Izin Lingkungan is an environmental permit needed by businesses to operate in Indonesia, but the Omnibus Law has changed this to Persetujuan Lingkungan, which is considered to be simpler to obtain. It was also implied that there will be lighter consequences for companies who commit an environmental crime.

Will the Omnibus Law remove the Strict Liability principle in environmental law (UU 32/2009 tentang Perlingungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan Hidup)?

Strict liability is a standard of liability where a person or company will be legally responsible for the consequences of activity even without having to prove “intent”.

It also focuses on how companies manage and store hazardous material and other activities that could potentially lead to environmental damages. In other words, companies whose activity caused some form of environmental damage will have to be liable and responsible for that damage, regardless of whether or not it was “intended” or an “accident”.

However, changes were made to UU 32/2009 tentang Perlindungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan Hidup, which implies the deletion of the strict liability concept. This is very dangerous considering how difficult it is to prove environmental crimes and this leaves room for any violating companies to escape responsibility.

What can individuals do to speak up about this issue, or prevent something like this to happen again in the future?

Source: Markus Spiske [3]

  1. Read and study the law itself, form your opinions but don’t disregard the reasoning of why the government had made certain decisions.

  2. Verify news to avoid misinformation

  3. Do what you can to speak out about your concerns and raise awareness among your peers

  4. Do your research and vote for the representative that reflects YOUR values and believe in protecting our environment


What would you like us to talk about next? Write in our forum HERE





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