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Analysis: Indonesia is putting business before the environment and that could be disastrous for its rainforests

October 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Last week, Indonesia's parliament passed a controversial and sweeping jobs law that environmentalists say will have a disastrous impact on the country's forests and rich biodiversity.

(CNN)Last week, Indonesia's parliament passed a controversial and sweeping jobs law that environmentalists say will have a disastrous impact on the country's forests and rich biodiversity.

But while the protests have focused on concerns over labor rights, environmentalists say the law loosens environmental protections and could lead to widespread deforestation and habitat loss.

Officials say this is to provide legal certainty in criminal investigations, according to Reuters, but environmentalists are worried it will weaken laws aimed at prosecuting companies that cause forest fires.

"We are afraid the changes of the liability mechanism will blur the lines in trial and hamper law enforcement for the forest fire issue," said Grita Anindarini, a researcher for the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law. Intense forest fires from land burning rage across Indonesia every year, with toxic haze spreading as far as Malaysia and Singapore.

Indonesia's Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said on Twitter that the rights of Indigenous peoples and those living in forest areas have greater protection under the new law and that obligations for companies to maintain forest areas will in fact be tighter.

But Environment Minister Siti said the law makes it easier for the government to revoke business permits for companies that undermine environmental laws.

Grita said that Indonesia's environmental law is "one of the most progressive laws we have" and progress has been made in recent years to step up environmental protection, though implementation and monitoring is still weak.

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