II. Methods

Indonesian nongovernmental organizations have been working on the issues of forced evictions, land acquisition, land rights, and housing rights in Jakarta and Indonesia for decades. This report builds on their work, and seeks to contribute to their larger efforts.

This report is based on five months of research, including thirty days of field research in Indonesia in January 2006. Human Rights Watch conducted fifty-eight in-depth interviews with victims and witnesses of forced evictions. These interviews, conducted in Indonesian by a Human Rights Watch researcher or through an interpreter provided first-hand testimony of fourteen different incidents of evictions that occurred between 2001 and 2006.

Various Jakarta-based nongovernmental organizations assisted us in making the initial contact with communities affected by a forced eviction. Once this first contact had been established, interviewees were generally asked to recommend fellow community members for us to interview. Occasionally, interviewees were asked to recommend a fellow community member of a certain gender or age in order to investigate a variety of experiences. Thirty-seven of the evictees interviewed were male, and twenty-one were female. Six of the interviewees were aged sixty years or older, and three of the interviewees were children.2 All names of evicted residents cited in this report have been changed to protect their identity.

Of the fourteen incidents of evictions examined by Human Rights Watch, four were carried out because a private entity claimed rights over the land, three occurred in areas where public-funded development projects were scheduled (although this was not necessarily the justification for the eviction provided by the government authorities), three were from land claimed by a government agency, three were in riverbank areas where public order regulations forbid settlements, and one was of a community living under a train overpass where public order regulations also forbid settlements. These fourteen incidents came from each of Jakarta’s municipalities, except for South Jakarta. Researchers from Human Rights Watch attended an eviction while in progress in Pisangan Timur, East Jakarta, on January 12, 2006. In all fourteen cases, evictions were accompanied by human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch also interviewed more than fifty representatives from the Governor of Jakarta’s office, other Indonesian government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, academics, lawyers, and international donors. A handful of these interviewees spoke with us on condition of anonymity, and their names have therefore been withheld. In addition, Human Rights Watch consulted a wide variety of Indonesian media sources, including newspaper articles, and television and video footage of forced evictions. In combination with the broader perspective offered by these sources, the fifty-eight individuals testifying to fourteen evictions over the past five years, with varying forms of tenure, and from all over the city, indicate that the problems reflected in this report are widespread. Moreover, this report indicates flaws in the laws and policies of the Indonesian government and Jakarta administration that suggest broad systemic and structural problems. This is not to discount that there may be cases in which the government treats evictees properly while carrying out legally permissible evictions.

Case Studies

Summaries of nine of the major eviction incidents documented by Human Rights Watch appear in grey boxes such as this throughout the report.

2 In this report, the world “child” refers to anyone under the age of eighteen. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child states: “For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 1, adopted November 20, 1989 (entered into force September 2, 1990).