Indonesia: Cultural heritage rights stymied by lack of law

The absence of a law to protect cultural property has resulted in the appropriation of Indonesia’s cultural heritage by other countries.

As such, the Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, which oversees the country’s intellectual property rights institution, is powerless to address the claims of other nations.

“This would not pose a problem if other countries asked permission before imbibing our cultural property and refrained from claiming them as their own,” Surahno, coordinator of the intellectual property rights violation handling team, said at an intellectual property rights workshop in Jakarta, as quoted by Antara news agency on Wednesday.

Surahno said the draft law on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression, which was drafted five years ago, was still awaiting approval. A total of 24 meetings had been held by 167 member countries of the World Intellectual Property Rights Organisation (WIPO) but to date nothing had come of these meetings.

“To protect communal property, we proposed international legal protection for the protection of bio-diversity resources as well as cultural products and practices. However, the United States and some countries in Europe have rejected it because they do not have details about the sources,” he said.