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Lapindo mudflow in Indonesia a 'human rights violation'

Publication Date : 15-08-2012


The Indonesian Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) announced yesterday that the Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java, was a human rights violation and that the oil and gas company PT Lapindo Brantas was responsible for the man-made disaster.

Komnas HAM chairman Ifdhal Kasim said that after a three-year investigation, which began in 2008, the commission concluded that Lapindo Brantas violated 15 basic rights of local residents in Sidoarjo, whose lives were disrupted by the disaster.

The commission fell short of naming the disaster a "gross" violation of human rights.

Kasim said the basic rights of local residents violated were the right to life, safety, health, housing, employment, education, social security and education.

The commission considered Lapindo Brantas, controlled by Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, and the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, had failed to guarantee victims' basic rights since the 2006 disaster.

Lapindo Brantas, through its subsidiary company PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya, has paid only 2.9 trillion rupiah (US$308 million) of the required 3.8 trillion rupiah in compensation to 4,129 victims from four villages in Sidoarjo: Siring, Jatirejo, Kedung Bendo and Renokenongo.

The government, as mandated by Law No. 4/2012 Article 18 on the state budget, is required to earmark a budget for the disaster and so far has set aside 500 billion rupiah in 2012 to help Lapindo Brantas pay the compensation.

According to estimates from Komnas HAM, between 40,000 and 60,000 people had been internally displaced after the mudflow submerged 10,426 homes in 12 villages in Porong subdistrict alone.

In its investigation, Komnas HAM also found that thousands of victims suffered from respiratory problems. It reported that 81 per cent of the victims suffered from lung problems while more than 200 people had died from poor health.

Thousands of people lost their jobs as 30 factories affected by the mudflow ceased operating.

Based on its findings, the commission issued a recommendation ordering Lapindo Brantas and its shareholders PT Medco Energi Internasional and Santos Ltd., the government and the National Police to make efforts to rehabilitate the rights of the victims.

The commission urged the companies to complete the payment of the compensation scheme to mudflow victims as well as to plug the mudflow.

"Lapindo should cover all the loses, not only in the areas submerged by the mudflow but all areas affected by the disaster," Kasim said.

Komnas HAM said that those responsible could only be tried under the Criminal Code, as the Human Rights Law did not cover crime against the environment, and recommended that the police reopen investigations against executives of Lapindo.


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