UN envoy told to press RI on housing rights

June 08, 2013

Human rights groups have called on the United Nations special rapporteur on housing rights, Raquel Rolnik, to demand that the Indonesian government immediately resolve cases of housing rights violations, such as forced evictions and the forced expulsion of minority groups.

Rolnik, who arrived in Indonesia on May 30 and will be in the country until June 11, is scheduled to meet with senior government officials, representatives of the UN system, the donor community, NGOs and the public during her visit.

She is also scheduled to publicize her findings on the last day of her visit and report her recommendations on housing rights in the country to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014.

“The President recently received an award in recognition of his work in supporting human rights. With the award that was recently given to him and a visit from the UN rapporteur, this is the right time for him to show the public that he really is committed to upholding human rights,” Rafendi Djamin, the country’s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), said recently.

Human rights groups, including the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), Arus Pelangi and the Indonesian Women’s Coalition, had a meeting with Rolnik in Jakarta on June 3 where they expressed their concerns over the inadequate housing rights in the country.

Ali Akbar Tanjung of the HRWG said the human rights groups had called on Rolnik to recommend that the government resolve agrarian conflicts and review its policies on natural resources that have harmed the public’s housing rights.

“We also urged her [Rolnik] to ask corporations to practice responsible business practices, as in the past they have caused a lot of people to lose their homes and livelihoods,” Ali said.

Tumpak Hutabarat of Walhi said the NGO had recorded 613 conflicts regarding natural resources and plantations in the country last year, including the conflict between PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) VII and residents in Ogan Ilir in South Sumatra.

The rights groups also urged the Jakarta administration to provide adequate housing for the victims of forced evictions in Jakarta. LBH Jakarta recorded that 2,545 people had been affected by forced evictions and did not have access to adequate housing last year. The number had significantly increased from 1,176 a year earlier.

“Our data also showed that last year the country experienced 503 natural disasters including floods, landslides and forest fires,” Tumpak said on Thursday.

Rafendi said that the right to adequate housing did not solely mean putting roofs over people’s heads but also included people’s rights to adequate sanitation, access to clean water and health services.

Meanwhile, King Oey from Arus Pelangi said that violations of adequate housing rights did not only befall victims of agrarian conflicts, but also minority groups including those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)

“A lot of forced evictions were carried out by local residents with the help of local administrations due to discrimination against minorities,” King said.

“The government did not protect these people and they lost their homes just because other local residents did not want to share their neighborhoods with people of a different sexual orientation,” he said.


Source: The Jakarta Post

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