Press Statement: SOCP angered by betrayal of justice by Aceh Judges

Press Statement

Issued on 9 April 2012 by :

The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP)

a joint programme of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari and the PanEco Foundation 

SOCP angered by betrayal of justice by Aceh Judges

Having studied the outcome of the Judge’s ruling at the National Administrative Court in Banda Aceh, the staff of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) hereby express our anger at the court’s lack of a ruling on the case challenging the legality of a plantation permit in Aceh’s Tripa peat swamp forests, given to the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam by the former Governor of Aceh province in contravention of National Spatial Planning Law (No. 26/2007). The case had run for 5 months before the judges simply decided that they were not qualified to judge it, thus attempting to brush the case under the carpet. This decision would be laughable, were it not such a tragic betrayal of the Indonesian public, the environment, and the very principles of justice.

We fully support the plan of the Coalition to Save the Tripa Peat Swamps and WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia to appeal this non-decision, and will play an active role in supporting their efforts.

SOCP refutes claims of former Governor

While we appreciate the former Governor of Aceh’s admission that issuing the permit was “morally wrong”, we completely refute his claims that the remaining Orangutan population has been unharmed by recent clearing and burning of the remaining peatland forests of Tripa. The former Governor has been informed on numerous occasions of the presence of an important Orangutan population in the Tripa peat swamp forests. While we also sympathize with the former Governor’s frustration at the lack of financial support provided for forest protection schemes in Aceh to date, we also find his method of drawing attention to the problem, namely sacrificing carbon-rich deep peat swamp forests and a population of the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan, completely reprehensible.

SOCP demands enforcement of laws to prevent extinction of  Tripa’s orangutans

The SOCP also draws attention not only to the case of the permit illegally issued to PT Kallista Alam, but also to repeated law-breaking by other concessions in the Tripa swamps. Multiple laws continue to be broken, especially by PT Surya Panen Subur 2, PT Kallista Alam, and by PT Dua Perkasa Lestari, threatening the remaining peatland forests and the surviving orangutan populations. In spite of over 40,000 people signing petitions, thousands of protest messages faxed, emailed and tweeted to numerous Indonesian officials and diplomatic missions around the world, no responsible Government official has made a public statement about the case since early December 2011. To our knowledge only one agency has actively sought information the case.

We are very disappointed with the lack of response to date from Government and law enforcement agencies mandated to control the actions of these companies, and think this damages Indonesia’s international reputation. Protecting rogue oil palm companies damages the reputation of the whole oil palm industry in Indonesia. It tars the image of more responsible companies that do try to adhere to Indonesian laws. Allowing rogue companies to illegally cause huge carbon emissions also jeopardizes Indonesia’s emissions reduction programme, including the $1 billion aid agreement with Norway. Finally, failing to uphold the law in a transparent and open manner only reinforces the impression of the global business community that Indonesia is a country where law enforcement is arbitrary and uncertain.

The SOCP’s primary goal is the conservation of the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan, including Tripa’s unique and globally important population of this species. We believe that this will never be achieved until the Government of Indonesia enforces its own Environmental and Conservation Legislation. We would be betraying the Sumatran orangutan, and all our many supporters if we do not continue to lobby for this using all means at our disposal.

We therefore ask the global community to continue to support our primary demand: 


that protect the Tripa Peat Swamps and its Critically Endangered Orangutans

This includes: ordering the immediate suspension of all activities by oil palm companies on recently cleared and burned lands, and a total ban on any new land drainage and forest clearing in the Tripa Peat Swamps; a comprehensive and transparent investigation of all environmental and administrative crimes perpetrated in the Tripa Peat Swamps of the Leuser Ecosystem during the last 5 years, and the open prosecution of those responsible.

If there is no immediate positive response from the responsible Government departments towards meeting these simple demands, we believe that it will then be necessary to push for the following:

  1. A suspension of Norway’s Letter of Intent on emissions reduction with Indonesia including its $1,000,000,000 aid package.
  2. A global suspension of all purchases of Indonesian palm oil that is not fully certified by the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
  3. Complete rejection of the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification scheme, until the rogue companies operating in Tripa are prosecuted.

Please visit us at and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme facebook page to find out more background on this story and how you can help save the Tripa Orangutans.

Dr. Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation

Phone      : +62 811650491

Email       :


Riswan Zein, GIS Specialist

Phone      : +62 8126553591

Email       :


Gunung Gea, Deputy Director of Conservation

Phone      : +62 85280108401

Email       :


Graham Usher, Landscape Protection Specialist

Phone      : +62 87766008476

Email       :


Download the press statement: Press statement global SOCP 20120409


About endoftheicons

The Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is in grave danger. Local politicians want to allow logging, mining and palm oil plantations in this vulnerable area. Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers are already hanging on by a thread. They will not survive the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

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