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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Indonesia

Article 28H and section (4) of Article 33 in the Indonesian Constitution guarantee every citizen the right to a good and healthy environment. For example, Article 28H reads: “Every person shall have the right to live in physical and spiritual prosperity, to have a home and to enjoy a good and healthy environment, and shall have the right to obtain medical care”.

Indonesia’s Environmental Protection and Management recognizes the following:

  • That the national economic development as mandated by the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia shall be organized based on the principles of sustainable and environmentally-friendly development
  • That the spirit of regional autonomy of the governance of the Republic of Indonesia has brought changes of relationship and authority between the central and local governments, including in regard of environmental protection and management
  • That in considering the environmental quality that is currently declining and has threatened the survival of life of humans and other living things and there is a need of protection and environmental management on a serious and consistent basis by all the stakeholders
  • That global warming is increasing to result a climate change that is exacerbating the environmental degradation therefore it is necessary to conduct the protection and management of environment
  • That in order to ensure the legal certainty and the protection of the right of every person to earn a good and healthy living environment as part of the overall protection of the ecosystem, it shall be necessary to amend Law Number 23 Year 1997 on Environmental Management

  • Featured Legislation

    1916: The Natural Monuments Ordinance (No. 278) was issued, overseeing the protection of flora and fauna.

    1982: Law No. 4 on Principles of Environmental Management was adopted to serve as an umbrella act. Prior to this legislation, the rules concerning the environment were scattered in several regulations – namely, Articles 187, 188, 191, 202, 497, 500-503, and 548-549 of the Criminal Code.

    1986: Government Regulation No. 29 was issued, providing guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments (AMDAL).

    1990:  Law No. 5 was formulated to conserve living natural resources and its ecosystem.

    2007: Law No. 30/2007 on Energy. This Law aims at significantly reducing the economy’s dependence on imported refined oil while boosting the use of other energy sources, including natural gas, biofuels and geothermal resources.


    2009: The Management and Protection of the Environment Law was passed, granting autonomy to national and regional governments to oversee the protection of the environment.

    2011: The Environmental Law and State Minister of the Environment (MOE) Regulation (No. 6) was signed,  creating a public information system to publish information on environmental projects and risks of harm to the public.

    2012: Government Regulation No. 27 was created to govern the transference of environmental licences from one party to another in the event of a change of ownership of a business.

    2013: The Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction Law (Law No. 18) was instituted, establishing forest protecting measures in order to prevent and eradicate Forest Destruction. The legislation also aims at enforcing the following principles within the national territory: justice and legal certainty; forest sustainability; state responsibility; public participation; vicarious liability; priority and integrity and coordination.

    2014: Government Regulation No. 101 was introduced to ensure all producers of “B3 Waste” or expired B3 materials acquire a licence from the Ministry of the Environment, Governor and/or Regent/Mayor according to their respective authorities. The legislation also states that “B3 Waste” producers must implement B3 management measures, including the reduction, storage, collection, transport, utilization, processing and hoarding of “B3 Waste.”

    2014: Law No. 37 of the Republic of Indonesia No. 37 of 2014 concerning Soil and Water Conservation. The Law, consisting of 69 articles divided into seventeen Chapters, establishes the requirements for Soil and Water Conservation. Its implementation is based on the following principles: participation; cohesiveness; balance; justice; usefulness; local wisdom; and sustainability. The implementation of Soil and Water Conservation aims to: protect the soil surface from the erosion of falling rainwater, increase the soil infiltration capacity, and prevent the occurrence of surface erosion; guarantee land functions to support community life; optimizing the productivity of land to realize economic, social and environmental benefits in a balanced and sustainable manner; increase the carrying capacity of the watershed; increase the capacity to develop and empower community participation; and guarantee the utilization of soil and water conservation fairly and evenly for the benefit of the community. Its scope includes: Soil and Water Conservation planning; implementation of Soil and Water Conservation; and Development and supervision of Soil and Water Conservation.

    2020: The Job Creation Law was enacted to outline a new set of regulations on the issuance of environmental permits.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • In 2019: The Indonesian government launched the ‘Indonesia Operation 30 Days at Sea’ programme, which ran from November to December. The aim of the campaign is to tackle environmental crimes which pollute Indonesian waters. According to the Director General of Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the programme is the biggest coordinated effort against marine pollution. Operating under the captivating tagline ‘Stop Environmental Damage, Save our Ocean’, the Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been invited to cover various activities such as monitoring activities at sea which have the potential to cause environmental damage; a series of campaigns on environmental preservation; and law enforcement against marine pollution crime. Select “hot spots” will be targeted during the campaign – namely, Batam Island, Belitung Island, North Jakarta, Tangerang, and West Java waters.
    • Parliament is attempting to weaken the country’s independent anti-corruption agency, making it harder to investigate environmental crimes and convict perpetrators. Two major pieces of legislation have catalyzed social unrest in the country, as thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to protect their constitutional rights to a healthy environment. Up until now,  investigators have been able to collect evidence against companies and corrupt politicians, but with the new legislative amendments, said investigations will be dependent on the police and public prosecutors. In essence, Indonesia’s amended criminal code would make it harder to prosecute companies that violate environmental laws. The 2019 fires have made the country one of the biggest carbon emitters that year. The new legislation threatens to accelerate environmental destruction, granting offenders impunity.

    References and Further Reading


    Ministry of Environment and Forestry: