CSO Meeting and Discussion with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Tuesday 10 April 2018

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver (Turkey) has visited Indonesia from 8 to 18 April 2018 to gather first-hand information on the country’s food and agriculture policies that affect peoples’ livelihoods. During this visit, the UN Special Rapporteur intends to focus on the efforts made by the Government in increasing food security and reducing malnutrition as well as the impact of business activities on the right to food while paying extra attention to the situation of women, children and populations living in rural areas and remote places. The Special Rapporteur said that the objective of her visit is to engage in a constructive dialogue with relevant stakeholders, to identify improvements as well as challenges and suggest recommendations to the Government and others.

From production to consumption, the food system in Indonesia is problematic. Food prices are high for middle and lower classes, especially those living in the rural parts or unprivileged parts of the cities. Malnutrition is an important issue, but also the industrial activities related to food production seriously affect food security and the right to food. In addition, the food industry causes pollution to rivers and land; especially the production of palm oil is the major threat to the environment. Ensuring food security requires action in multiple dimensions, including improving the governance of food systems; inclusive and responsible investments in agriculture and rural areas, in health and education; empowering small producers, and strengthening social protection mechanisms for risk reduction.

Last Tuesday (10/4), Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) had the opportunity to co-organize a CSOs meeting with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver in Jakarta, Indonesia. The meeting took place at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM RI). During this meeting, three civil society organizations, Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Association (KNTI), Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS) and Solidaritas Perempuan presented their main human rights and asked attention for a number of issues. The presentations were followed by an interactive dialogue session.

Several cases has been mentioned and reported to the UN Special Rapporteur concerning the the right to food in Indonesia. Currently, main issues involve, among others, food security, the accessibility, availability and adequacy of food, discrimination against peasant and other people working in rural areas as food producers, the realization of women’s right to food and the right to food in fisheries sector.

The Representative of IHCS raised the issue of many peasants being arrested by the Indonesian authorities lately on the basis of the Law 18/2013 on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction. Based on IHCS’ monitoring, there are at least 71 peasants now that go through a similar process throughout Indonesia. One specific case brought forward by IHCS is the case of Azhari. Azhari is a peasant in the forest and also a Chairman of the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI) of Merangin in Jambi province. He also was arrested by the Regional Police in Jambi Province on charges of offence against the Law on Prevention and Eradication of the Forest Destruction. IHCS claims that his arrest, and that of many others, constitutes a human rights violation.

KNTI has raised multiple issues during its presentation, including, among others, the underconsumption of fishery products per capita in comparison to ASEAN and the lack of tenure rights protection and recognition. Laws and policies mostly aim to boost tourism and insufficiently take into account the rights of tenures. Also, women working in the fishery sector are still unrecognized and domesticated in Fisher Protection Laws. Another issue is the legalization of ocean grabbing in Land Agency Regulation No. 17/2016 on the Coastal and Small Island Arrangement.

According to the Solidaritas Perempuan representative, women are not identified as subject of land rights and their specific situation is not considered. They are not recognized in policies and government programs and they are marginalized in decision-making processes. Laws related to food do not specifically and explicitly mention women as stakeholders. Women face inequality with regard to land control and ownership. They may only have the right to land ownership if the women in question is a widow or she receives a legacy from her parents. In Poso, 90% of the land is owned by men. In Ogan Ilir, South Sumatera, 84,3% of the land is owned by men.

After the meeting with CSOs in Jakarta, the UN Special Rapporteur and her OHCHR team visited several regions in Indonesia, including Palembang, Ambon and Yogyakarta. The UN Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference concerning her preliminary report on her last day visit to Indonesia on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018. Her final public report on the country visit will be presented at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019.

We hope that the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food is able to contribute to the realization of the right to food and the protection of people against the impact of large businesses in Indonesia.