Vast majority of Jakarta evictions violate int'l covenant: LBH Jakarta
Safrin La Batu and Dewanti A. Wardhany
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) has found in a study that 95 out of a total of 113 evictions in Jakarta last year violated an international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, which requires sincere dialogue, the avoidance of violence and the provision of solutions for evictees.
The study found that the main perpetrator of evictions was the Jakarta administration, with 96 evictions, the central government with 11 evictions, and private companies with three. State-owned enterprises and development agencies were each responsible for two evictions, the study found.
The study, launched Wednesday, found that 95 evictions were carried out without any dialogue and 72 without offering any solutions.
More than half of the evictions, or 67, involved military personnel, 65 involved the police, 108 involved Jakarta Public Order officers and 54 used the threat of heavy equipment such as backhoes.
LBH Jakarta said the city administration claimed it talked to residents by means of so-called 'familiarizations' prior to evictions but the method was usually one way and did not constitute sincere dialogue.
'These are all against the human rights covenant,' the report said.
The covenant, which Indonesia ratified through Law No. 11/2005, stipulates, among other things, the rights of residents during evictions.
While the covenant itself considers evictions 'a gross violation of human rights and a prima facie violation of the right to adequate housing', it regulates the mechanism and conditions required before an eviction is carried out.
One of the conditions the covenant requires is that there should be dialogue prior to an eviction. It also requires compensation for any damaged property.
'Effective legal recourses and remedies should be available to those who are evicted, including adequate compensation for any real or personal property affected by the eviction,' the covenant says.
The report said East and North Jakarta saw the most evictions, each with 31 cases. Central Jakarta saw 23, West Jakarta 14, and South Jakarta 14. The 113 evictions resulted in the destruction of 8,145 houses and 6,283 small enterprises.
LBH Jakarta lawyer Alldo Fellix Januardy said on Wednesday that deploying police and military personnel, which the administration did in most of its evictions, increased the occurrence of violence at the time of eviction.
'I myself was the victim of police violence last month,' he said, referring to an incident where he was assaulted by police officers while providing legal assistance to Bukit Duri residents in South Jakarta.
He also said that it was beyond the police and military's authority to take part in evictions.
'Based on Article 13 of the National Police Law, the duty of the police is to keep order and enforce the law. What are they enforcing if the status [of the land in question] is not legally clear? If it is not clear the police should conduct an investigation first,' he explained, adding that the military's duty was to protect the state, not to evict people.
Alldo said the administration's oft-repeated argument that evicted residents had occupied state land, in many cases, contravened the law because the evictions applied to everyone regardless of how long they had lived in the area.
He said that according to Article 1963 of the Civil Code, anyone living in a location for 30 years or more, with good intentions and without complaint from others, had the right to register the land as his or her own.
Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama brushed off LBH Jakarta's findings, and asserted that the city administration always carried out dialogue with evictees beforehand.
'LBH Jakarta and those residents always claims things like this. The municipal administration as well as district and subdistrict offices always inform the residents and conduct dialogue before evictions. Otherwise how would they know that they are being evicted in the first place?' Ahok said on Wednesday.
He went on to say that the city administration provided a solution by relocating residents into low-cost rental apartments, although some may not move into their new apartment units immediately after eviction.
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