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Indonesia: NGO reports human rights violations related to information and land ownership hamper the “New Bali” development program

Author: Eisya A. Eloksari, The Jakarta Post, Published on: 12 January 2020

“Tourism discussion stresses rights protection in 'New Bali' developments”, 2 January 2020

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Rights violations related to information and land ownership are among the main problems hampering the "New Bali" tourist destination development program, a study by the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) has revealed…

ELSAM researcher Blandina Lintang Setianti said that the majority of local people were not aware of the government’s detailed tourism development plans for their areas, as the related discussion and information sharing sessions only involved local officials, such as tourism agency officials and district heads…

She said that disputes over land ownership and acquisition were also prominent issues…including the land dispute in Sigapitong village of Toba Samosir regency, near Lake Toba.

In September 2019, an indigenous community demonstrated against a highway project to connect local tourism destinations that was authorized by the Lake Toba Authority Agency (BPODT). 

Several women from the community were involved in a highly publicized altercation with police officers during the protest, which demanded that the government discontinue the highway project until it recognized the community's ownership of customary lands.

“The local people could lease their land to private [businesses] so they will benefit from financially from tourism development, but this can be done only if the government resolves the land [ownership] status first,” Lintang told the Post.

As more tourists visited the 10 New Balis, she said, the potential risk of child exploitation should also be addressed, for example by ensuring that children went to school instead of working at tourist sites…

Djohari Somad, chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Players Association (ASPPI), said the government should also improve protecting the rights of tourists, especially in guaranteeing their safety, noting that Indonesians still lacked training in emergency response plan (ERP) and safety during disasters. 

He also pointed out that the country lacked safety travel insurance and a standard operating procedure (SOP) among the basic requirements of its tourism industry…

 “What we must learn is that if we cannot meet the rights of the local people, then this can hamper the rights of our tourists as well,” Bambang Iriana Djajaatmadja, the cooperation director at the Law and Human Rights Ministry's human rights directorate general, said...

Read the full post here