Author(s): Tegnan Hilaire, Mardalena Hanifah, Syaifullah Yophi Ardiyanto
Land related conflicts take place everywhere in the world and West Sumatra and Riau provinces, where villagers and large-scale palm oil plantation companies have often been going at each other since mid-1998, are not exempt from this reality. These conflicts are closely related to the process of land control or land acquisition by both local governments and companies. This paper discusses the issue of legal protection for communal land (referred to as tanah ulayat hereafter) rights in both West Sumatra and Riau provinces. This is an empirical research seeking to find out to what extent laws and regulations protect traditional communities’ land rights in both West Sumatra and Riau provinces. It uses case study and root cause analysis in an atttempt to dissect the root-causes of long existing customary land conflicts in both West Sumatra and Riau provinces. Data were collected through in-depth interviews, surveys, laws/regulations, news papers and magazines. This study reveals that the dismissal of customary law, the inconsistency of communal land transfer process through customary law (hukum adat), the exclusion of traditional communities from land transfer negociations, and unkept promises are, among many others, the reasons of land conflict excalation in West Sumatra and Riau provinces.