GENEVA (1 March 2023) – UN experts* today expressed concern about persistent allegations of increased militarisation and human rights violations surrounding Mandalika, an urban development and tourism project in Indonesia.

The experts have received alarming accounts of alleged human rights violations committed by police and military forces – including excessive use of force to evict and restrict the right to freedom of expression of the Sasak Indigenous Peoples.

The Mandalika project is situated in Lombok’s West Nusa Tenggara Province. It includes parks, resorts, hotels, and the Mandalika International Circuit—a motorcycle racetrack hosting international sporting events. The project is implemented by State-owned enterprise Indonesia Tourism and Development Corporation (ITDC) and is primarily funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

According to the experts, the task force for the acceleration of settlement of land disputes attached to this project comprises members of both the police and provincial army. This task force has reportedly intimidated and coerced Indigenous Peoples in Mandalika to cede their lands.

“The Indonesian government must ensure that any actions taken concerning the Mandalika project are not excessive and immediately provide victims with access to effective remedy,” they said.

The UN experts called on Indonesia and the AIIB to ensure their policies and practices fully comply with international human rights standards, as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement.

They urged the Indonesian government to remove members of the security forces from the task force to settle land disputes. “Only then can affected communities and human rights defenders safely raise their concerns about the negative impacts of the project,” the experts said.

“Meaningful consultation must occur at all stages of project development, and the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples must be obtained in line with international standards,” they said.

The AIIB and State authorities should disclose Standard Operating Procedures for Security Personnel as developed for the Mandalika project, to allow affected communities to report non-compliance by security forces, they urged.

The UN experts raised their concerns with the Government of Indonesia, ITDC and AIIB, as well as with concerned private companies such as VINCI Construction Grands Projets, Accor, Dorna Sports and EBD Paragon, and their home States (France, Spain and the United States of America). The communications will be made available here on 15 April 2023.

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UN Human Rights, country page – Indonesia

*The experts: Ms. Pichamon Yeophantong (Chairperson), Mr. Damilola Olawuyi (Vice-Chairperson), Ms. Fernanda HopenhaymMs. Elżbieta Karska, and Mr. Robert McCorquodale of the Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Mr. Olivier De SchutterSpecial Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights;  Ms.Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defendersMs. Irene KhanSpecial Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expressionMr. Francisco Cali Tzay,Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous PeoplesMr. Balakrishan RajagopalSpecial Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.