Subject: Human Rights Violations 'On Rise' in Jakarta: Legal Aid Institute

The Jakarta Post Friday, December 28, 2007

Human rights violations 'on rise' in city

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Reports of human rights violations have doubled this year, with more than 20,000 people claiming to be victims, a legal aid foundation said Thursday.

The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) recorded 1,140 human rights violation cases with 20,837 people affected, while last year there were 1,123 cases with 10,015 victims.

The city administration was most common alleged perpetrator, the institute reported.

The institute releases its human rights report at the end of each year. It's contents are based on complaints made to the institute over the course of the year.

The most prominent single case this year was the eviction of 5,935 squatters from a North Jakarta turnpike in August.

Fire coming from the squatters' homes damaged part of the turnpike in August, prompting the city administration to evict them.

Institute director Asfinawati said the administration has also violated human rights in its evictions of street vendors, handling of traffic jams, land and housing disputes, and in the issuance of building permits.

Other major cases included 216 labor cases with 11,851 victims. LBH Jakarta recorded 95 cases where workers were sacked and 35 cases of workers being paid below the minimum wage. Jakarta's minimum wage in 2007 has hovered at Rp 900,560 (US$100) a month.

There were also 360 civil and political cases, 135 cases involving women and children, and 230 special cases such as insurance, land certificates and obligations.

The institute also criticized Bylaw No.8/2007 on public order, which served as the city administration's legal basis to evict squatters and street vendors.

The same bylaw stipulates that no one may run a business or build homes on city-owned land.

"Prohibiting people from running businesses on city-owned land prevents them from earning money because they can't operate on pedestrian strips and city parks," she said.

Yoseph Adi Prasetyo, a commissioner of the National Commission of Human Rights Sub-Commission of Education and Public Information, warned that eviction problems could have a wider impact.

"People will be homeless and unemployed," he said.

He added that the commission had received around 500 complaints from Jakarta residents in the past three months.

They included cases of eviction and communal violence, particularly the vandalism of churches.

He did not elaborate on the number of church vandalism cases in the city, but quoting data from the Indonesian Conference of Bishops, he said that there were 180 cases throughout the country in the past three years.

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