Get to Know Indigenous People’s Right in West Papua

Indigenous People's Right in West Papua Must Be Protected

Indonesia is one of the countries that have more than one indigenous people who still adhere to their own customs and culture, for example, in West Papua. However, the natives are vulnerable to deprivation of rights. It is why people need to work together to protect indigenous people’s right in West Papua

There are at least two fundamental rights that the indigenous people of Papua need to have. Those two things are customary rights over the land and human rights that cannot be forgotten. Considering that they have already existed for a long time, even before Indonesia was founded in 1945.

Here is the explanation! 

Customary Law and Customary Rights over The Land in West Papua

The Importance of Indigenous People's Right in West Papua

Actually, the word “customary land” is not something strange for native Papuans. Moreover, the indigenous people who live in their territory, bound to certain customs, have a high sense of kinship and solidarity among their members. This is very common in the land of Papua, where the natives love their culture. [1]

In Indonesia, the existence of indigenous peoples in West Papua is recognized by law. The law that applies in the customary land will be slightly different from the law that applies to the general public. They have the right to write the customary law and punish the violators of customary law. 

According to the law, the state respects its customary law as long as it does not violate peace and security in NKRI. The customary law can be general or sectoral, such as in agrarian, forestry, fishery, and other fields. The characteristic of the law is territorial and only applies to customary land. [2]

Aside from making and enforcing the customary laws, indigenous people also have a customary right to their land. Basically, customary rights for indigenous people of West Papua is a community right. Certain customary law communities own it over a certain area or land where they live. [3]

They have the right to utilize their land, forest, and water and their contents following laws and statutory regulations. In Article 64, paragraph (1) of Law 21/2001, the government is obliged to protect biodiversity with consideration of customary rights. 

However, to obtain these rights, indigenous peoples need to register their customary territories with the local government. Later, the local government will verify before designating the area as customary territory. After that, you can obtain those customary rights. 

Human Rights Implementation for Indigenous People of West Papua

Giving Indigenous People's Right in West Papua

In addition to customary rights, indigenous people are also entitled to achieve equal human rights. The state is obliged to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of indigenous peoples. This is in accordance with Law Number 21 of 2001 concerning Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua. [4]

Up until now, human rights in West Papua is still one of the priority issues that is being handled by Komnas HAM. [5] This is because all citizens of Indonesia have the same rights, including indigenous people who live in the land of Papua. From political rights, economic rights, etc, all people are equal. 

The Indonesian government is encouraged to solve the human rights issue in West Papua through a humanitarian-based approach.

The most basic thing is not to overreact when an indigenous person expresses their opinion. Freedom of speech is a form of expression that is mostly harmless. So, this is not a reason to violate human rights. The government must protect this right to avoid conflict because of a mere misunderstanding. 

Then, the indigenous people’s right in West Papua also need to pay more attention to women, children, and the elderly, who are vulnerable groups. This is because everyone has the right to feel prosperous including all of them.