Civil society brings new Mining Law to court over transparency issues

Civil society actors across Indonesia have laid out a two-phase lawsuit to challenge the controversial Coal and Mineral Mining Law at the Constitutional Court amid concerns over transparency.

The first phase of the legal process saw mining experts challenging the country’s lawmakers over poor public participation during the law’s five-year deliberation. Should they fail, a second round of mining watchdogs – the Clean Indonesia Coalition – will challenge lawmakers over individual articles in the law.

The watchdogs are rooting for the court to accept the first challenge, according to coalition spokesman Arip “Yogi” Yogiawan of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) on Monday.

“That would be better because it increases the possibility of revoking the entire law,” he told The Jakarta Post via phone call.

Mining Law No. 3/2020, which was passed on June 10, promises bigger concessions and easier permits for mining companies in hopes of raising Indonesia’s state revenue and thus enabling the government to finance more public services.

However, civil groups have lambasted the regulation over concerns of its impact on the environment and society. Notable revisions include quadrupling the maximum size of traditional mining zones to 100 hectares and allowing mining activities in rivers and the sea.

Stakeholders have also lambasted the House of Representatives and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry for not giving civil society groups, foreign investors and regents, among others, time to scrutinize the bill.

The House publicly released a draft bill on May 11 then approved it the following day, giving the public virtually no time to scrutinize the 93-page document.

Civil society set the ball rolling to challenge the law on the afternoon of July 10, when an eight-man plaintiff submitted a judicial review to the Constitutional Court in Central Jakarta.

The plaintiff was composed of Bangka Belitung Governor Erzaldi Rosman Djohan, regional legislators Alirman Sori and Tamsil Linrung, student group leaders Ilham Rifki Nurfajar and Andrean Saefudin, industry observers Marwan Batubara and Budi Santoso and Muslim group leader Hamdan Zoelva.

“It’s hard to guess but I am hoping, personally, that within three months, the court will decide whether to accept or reject our plea,” the team’s chief lawyer, Ahmad Redi, told the Post on Monday.

He said the judicial review was initiated by the Mining Society (Koalisi Masyarakat Peduli Minerba), which has been monitoring the law’s deliberation since 2015, when the House of Representatives added the law to the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas).

Once the society got word that the House had approved the law, they reached out to regional lawmakers, students and their own members to testify in court.

“We made the plea in about a week then immediately submitted it to the court,” he said.

His team had to be quick. Existing regulations require such judicial reviews to be submitted to the court within 45 days after a law is signed into action.

His team’s latest hearing was on July 24 when mask-wearing judges asked the team to provide more arguments to justify each plaintiff’s legal standing. Judge Suhartoyo, in particular, asked the team to halve their 45-page plea.

“The Constitutional Court will await the revised pleas up till 14 days from today,” said Suhartoyo, concluding the hearing.

The Clean Indonesia Coalition, which comprises seven non-profits including YLBHI, has been gathering evidence and mobilizing grassroots support to challenge the law should the Constitutional Court reject the mining experts’ plea.

Alliance members were particularly focused on finding Indonesians who live near mines to testify in court, as such citizens had a stronger legal standing, said YLBHI’s Yogi.

“Those voices need to be brought together. And how to bring them together is our aim going forward,” he said.

House lawmaker Eddy Soeparno, deputy chairman of Commission VII that oversaw the law’s drafting, told the Post that the commission would send out its mining law working committee to testify in court, should they be summoned.

The 26-member team was led by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) politician Bambang Wuryanto.

“The point is, if there is a summons, we will of course be present,” said Eddy.

The ministry has also defended the law in the wake of the judicial review.

“Everyone has a right to challenge. But if the Mining Law did not comply with other laws, how could it have passed?” said Energy Ministry official Heri Nurzaman, as quoted by