Reporting Conflicts in a Targeted Manner

28 July 2022

We could certainly agree that if there is a conflict and the conflict becomes an obstacle to production, whether it is farming by communities or plantation production activities by companies, the conflict must be dealt with immediately. Regardless the production activity, the results will be more optimal if those could be carried out in peaceful conditions.

So what are we supposed to do when facing or experiencing a dispute or a conflict? We often get this question from colleagues who work with community groups, work as company staff, and even from people who experiences the conflict themselves.

If a conflict cannot be resolved directly between the conflicting parties, we can report the conflict to a third party. In this case, to parties outside the conflicting parties who can be expected to help unravel the issues of the conflict and resolve the conflict. Then, to whom should we bring our complaints when we face conflict?

To whom we direct the complaints about the conflict we face will determine how our complaints will be responded to. Some agencies will respond and followed up on the complaint quickly, some will forward the complaint to a more competent entity, and some will even not respond at all.

These different kinds of responses can occur because not all parties who receive the complaint have the authority in the realm of the conflict being reported. This often happens when we report to government agencies whose mandates have been fragmented according to the job descriptions stipulated by regulations. This means that our complaints need to be submitted to the right party; for example, if we face a conflict involving a plantation company, it would be more appropriate if we report it to the local Plantation Office in accordance with the main tasks and functions of this agency.

We are need to be aware that conflicts, especially conflicts over land and natural resources, are very complex and multi-layered, so when we face conflicts, we are often confused in our understanding the conflict. Therefore, as a first step, we need to find out the real issue of the conflict. Understanding what is the nature of the conflict you are facing can give you an idea to whom the conflict could be reported to and be expected to handle.

For example, if we face a conflict related to environmental and forestry issues, such as environmental pollution or forest destruction, we can report this to the District Environmental Agency or go through the complaint channel of the One Stop Integrated Services of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. However, when the conflict we face is related to a conflicting land claims between a community and a company, we can report it directly to the Directorate of Conflict Complaints, Tenure and Customary Forests (PKTHA), of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. In short, reporting a conflict to the right party will increase the likelihood that our complaint will be responded to quickly and appropriately.

After knowing to whom we will file our case, we need to find out what are the prerequisites to be fullfiled as a case reporting requirement, so that we can expect that the case could be handled immediately. It is necessary that we know this as each institution has its own channel with its own prerequisites. For example, if we want to report a case related to land to the land agency, there are several channels we can try, such as through their website, SMS, the LAPOR application of the Presidential Staff Office, social media accounts, or e-mail. And if we want to report a case through the LAPOR application, first, we need to register using an e-mail or a social media account and then fill out the complaint form provided. As a rapporteur, we can choose to report anonymously if we feel it is necessary. Next, we need to attach supporting documents to our report, such as minutes of conflict, power of attorney/letter of authority, copies of land documents or permits etc. The hope is that with supporting documents which provide complete and accorate data and information, , the likelihood that our complaint will be responded to and followed up will increase.

These are some examples of reporting channels that we can access when facing a conflict, either as a party to the conflict or as a party assisting the parties. Of course, there are still many conflict reporting channels that have been provided by both the government and other independent institutions, even some business entities have also established grievance mechanisms. Reporting to these complaint channels, of course, will be more effective and on target if we follow the authority possessed and the administrative prerequisites of each reporting channel.

Of course, we must also understand that apart from clear, complete and targeted reporting, there are many other factors that determine whether our complaint gets a response or not. These factors include, among others, the readiness of the complaint-receiving institution, their priorities, the efficiency of their internal management process, cooperation and communication between institutions if the reported conflict involves the jurisdictions of several different institutions, and many other factors. Layang Damai will further discuss this in more detail