Baru supports proposed Indigenous People’s Court


Baru Bian

KUCHING: The proposed Indigenous People’s Court will benefit all parties including the judiciary because it allows protection for the native community.

State chairman of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Baru Bian yesterday said he supported the suggestion made by the chairman of Bar Council’s Orang Asli’s Rights Committee Andrew Khoo during the ‘2012 Legal Year and Conference of Judges’ in Putrajaya on Jan 14.

“I urge our new Chief Justice to recognise the needs of our native community and to establish an Indigenous People’s Court so that the protection guaranteed to them by our Federal Constitution can be more speedily and effectively enforced,” said Baru, who is also Ba Kelalan assemblyman.

He said that a specialised court with judges who are fully conversant in matters related to indigenous community would save time and costs as the time taken to hear cases would be considerably shortened.

“Our clients often have to travel long distances to attend court cases and they cannot afford frequent visits and long stays in the towns and cities. A specialised court will help to improve their access to justice,” he said in a statement to the media yesterday.

In terms of evidence and procedure, Baru said that an Indigenous Court should be more friendly and accommodating in its approach, taking into consideration the courtroom was an alienating and intimidating place for the indigenous people.

“More and more native landowners are becoming more aware of their rights and the availability of the court as an avenue for justice where their rights to land have been violated by companies, often with the connivance of those in authority.

The log book in my law firm for NCR claims has reached the 200 mark, with around 100 active files,” he said.

Earlier, news reports stated that Khoo said there was a need to hear cases involving indigenous communities quickly as most of them were old and setting up a special court to hear them would help expedite the hearing and resolution of the cases.

Khoo suggested that the proposed Indigenous People’s Court would work in tandem with another proposed court, the Environment Court, to safeguard indigenous community from environmental degradation caused by private companies.