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Jakarta Post

Bogor'€™s '€˜zero-immigrant policy'€™ has no legal ground: HRW

  • Theresia Sufa and Sita W. Dewi

    The Jakarta Post

Bogor/Jakarta   /   Wed, April 16, 2014   /  10:09 am

The Bogor authorities'€™ plan to apply a zero-immigrant policy in the mountainous resort region of Puncak, a popular destination for asylum seekers and refugees, has no solid legal base, a researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

'€œOn what law are they basing the eviction on? Indonesia does not have laws on migrants and asylum seekers. The only law they did break was the Immigration Law, which means they should have been taken to an immigration detention center, which are extremely overcrowded by now,'€ researcher Andreas Harsono told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He pointed out that if the Bogor administration was to go ahead with the eviction; '€œIndonesia might potentially violate human rights.'€

Bogor National and Political Unity Office (Kesbangpol) head Rizal Hidayat said recently that the administration would only allow tourists to enter and stay in the regency.

'€œWe are keen to evict refugees and asylum seekers from Puncak. We will only welcome foreigners who will bring profit to Bogor, like tourists,'€ he said recently in Bogor regency, West Java.

Cisarua district head Bayu Rahmawanto, shared his sentiment, saying that the presence of refugees and asylum seekers brought more trouble than advantage to the locals.

Despite admitting that the refugees and asylum seekers contributed to the local economy as they spent money on rent and transportation, some of the immigrants had caused trouble, Bayu said.

The district head said that recently an immigrant stole a pack of cigarettes from a minimart in Cisarua. The immigrant committed a crime because he felt he was protected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Bayu claimed.

Bayu also encouraged Bogor Kesbangpol to record how many migrants were staying in the area and immediately take action.

'€œI hope the relevant authorities set an operational standard to support field officers. We encourage the authorities to immediately relocate them because we can'€™t monitor them,'€ he said.

Bogor Regent Rachmat Yasin had instructed district and village heads to regularly monitor and report illegal immigrants and undocumented migrants to the authorities.

'€œTheir mobility is quite intensive,'€ Bayu said.

The Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister'€™s people-smuggling, refugees and asylum seekers desk secretary Pujo Laksono said that issues regarding immigrants in Cisarua had affected public order and that some of the immigrants had committed various types of crime, including sexual harassment.

Pujo said that, the UNHCR had recorded 10,546 undocumented migrants or illegal immigrants in Indonesia, even though the actual number is believed to exceeded that. Most immigrants are in Indonesia transiting before resuming their journey to their final destination, Australia.

According to the Bogor Immigration Office, 254 refugees are registered in Bogor regency. Over recent years, the administration has sent 257 asylum seekers to detention centers.

On April 14, the Bogor Immigration Office '€” along with the Bogor Kesbangpol, the police and the Law and Human Rights Ministry '€” conducted a campaign to inform local residents, asylum seekers and refugees, of the plan to eject them from Bogor.

As of April, 246 people smugglers have been taken into custody for helping illegal immigrants by providing boats or other means of transportation for them.

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