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Indonesia

  • Indonesian lawmakers aim to pass a long-awaited revision of the country’s Criminal Code this month, but already the draft has been widely criticized for rolling back personal freedoms and human rights.
  • Activists say it also threatens to gut existing legislation on environmental protection, effectively going easy on polluters and other environmental violators.
  • Problems identified include raising the bar for proving an environmental offense; more lenient sentencing prescriptions; and failing to hold the responsible parties accountable for environmental crimes.

JAKARTA — A highly contentious set of revisions to Indonesia’s Criminal Code threatens to undermine the fight against environmental offenders and polluters, activists warn.

Deliberations on the new draft are in the final stage in parliament, in what proponents are calling a much-needed overhaul and reform of a penal code inherited from Dutch colonial rule more than 70 years ago.

Already the bill has drawn intense criticism for new provisions that, if passed as expected in April, would criminalize consensual non-marital sex, outlaw the promotion of contraceptives, and make it illegal to insult the president or religious leaders, among other points.

But overshadowed by the furor over the looming rollback of personal freedoms and human rights are provisions that appear to weaken existing enforcement articles under the 2009 Environmental Protection Law.

“When we studied the draft, we found out that it’ll heavily affect existing environmental law enforcement and there are going to be many things that can’t be enforced,” said Reynaldo Sembiring, a researcher with the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL).

“While the current law still has some weaknesses, those weaknesses will be amplified further in the new Criminal Code.”

These include making it more difficult to prove an environmental crime has taken place, watering down sentences for environmental violations, and a persistent failure to apportion accountability for these crimes.

Read more: Activists fear for environmental protection under Indonesia’s revised Criminal Code

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Seagrass meadows in the vast Indonesian archipelago. Credit: Dr. Richard Unsworth

Research led by Swansea University's Bioscience department has found that the world center of biodiversity is under widespread threat of losing a key marine resource.

Read more: Center of world's marine biodiversity is in danger

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Armed with new research, a team of scientists has been working with Indonesian governments on conservation management.

Jellyfish are a common sight in ocean waters, but they also live in rare marine lakes, like this one, recently discovered in West Papua, Indonesia. Marine lakes are small bodies of seawater that are completely landlocked. There are about 200 marine lakes in the world, and less than twenty are known to contain jellyfish.On recent expeditions in Indonesia, National Geographic Explorer Lisa Becking documented four new lakes containing the sea creatures. Due to their isolated nature, each lake is a unique ecosystem. They are also warmer and saltier than the ocean, providing a glimpse into how climate change and warming waters might affect sea life in the future.

Click here to read Rare Saltwater Lakes Filled with Jellyfish Found in Indonesia.

Source: National Geographic | 28 February 2018

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