VII. Lack of Consultation

Failure to Consult

We were very worried because there was no meeting.

—Suryo Witoelar, a fifty-five-year-old businessman207

The government of Jakarta fails to provide basic procedural protections to residents facing eviction. The authorities generally implement evictions with little or no consultation with affected residents, despite obligations under domestic and international law to do so.208 Instead, residents are often threatened, intimidated, and obstructed by government authorities. The government is also failing to have meaningful consultations with communities regarding planning decisions that affect them.

An NGO advocate we spoke with described the Jakarta government’s unwillingness to consult with affected communities about the development plans for their land: “There is no transparency. The reason there is no transparency is because the government’s priority is business…The government of the city does not want to involve the people in the planning of development. [The decisions are] driven by business priorities, not strategic priorities.”209

Residents frequently complained that the government rejected efforts by the residents to meet with local government officials to negotiate and discuss details regarding the use of their land or eviction plans. Some evictees had little understanding of the reasons for their evictions and of their right to be involved in such decisions. When Human Rights Watch interviewed Ibnu Darmawan, a fifty-year-old seller of second-hand goods, we asked him if the government had provided him with any reason for destroying his home. He returned our question with a confused expression: “I don’t know why they evicted us. What do you mean by asking ‘Was there a reason?’”210

When government forces arrive at a community on the date of the eviction, they are frequently unwilling to negotiate with the residents, even as to providing time for the community to secure their belongings. Agus Adil explained how the eviction at Pondok Kopi turned violent after government security forces refused to give the local community time to secure their belongings before the demolition began:

The forces from the government were already here, so a group of us formed to negotiate with the public order officials, to negotiate so that the eviction would not happen now, and that if we had to be evicted we were just asking for a little time to collect our things. But the response was that they wanted to do the eviction then and there. And the result was that we resisted the eviction and there was a fight.211

Insufficient Notice

There was no notification that the eviction was going to happen…There were no rumors, no talk that anything was wrong.

—Jullieta Indriyanti, a forty-year-old salvager of second-hand materials212

At the time I was washing clothes, and cooking some things, and I heard the sound of the knocking, so I ran out of the house to see what was happening. Not long after, the bulldozers arrived, I didn’t know what was happening.

—Atin Rukiyah, a thirty-one-year-old unemployed woman213

The sound of approaching bulldozers should never be residents’ first notice that they are about to lose their homes.214 Some evictees complained to Human Rights Watch that they either received no prior notification of their eviction, or that they had been confused by the messages they received.

In a number of incidents, residents complained that they felt confused by the manner in which the government notified them. Several people told Human Rights Watch that eviction notices were never delivered personally to residents. Rini Rumasilan explained to us how her community at Cengkareng Timur received their notification letters: “[Notices] weren’t handed to people, they were just scattered around. They were just suddenly there. The people didn’t have the courtesy to discuss it with us.”215

Human Rights Watch collected similar testimony from residents of evicted communities in Pondok Kopi and Pisangan Timur where notification letters were simply left on the ground in a pile or strewn around the edge of the community. Agus Adil explained to Human Rights Watch how many of the residents of his community in Pondok Kopi viewed this form of delivery to be confusing and used it to justify their belief that the eviction was illegal:

Indeed there was a letter. But it was non-official. Not official because it wasn’t given to each member of the community, it was just thrown to the group…[I]f I receive a letter from the electricity company, it comes straight to me, so if a letter like this comes how do I know it is for me?.216

For notification to be adequate, the government must also provide alternative means for those who are unable to read. Chahaya Utari told us that the government failed to do this with his community: “The main problem is that most of the fishermen are illiterate and could not read. Imagine being given a letter that you cannot read!”217

Evictions: East Canal

Photo 7: The island in this section of the East Canal was created as builders dug around a lot where the owner of a house had not yet received compensation. (The structure has now been dismantled.) Despite the constructors’ concerns not to disturb uncompensated property, the owner could have made little use of his preserved, yet inaccessible, property.
(c) 2006 Bede Sheppard/Human Rights Watch

Flooding has been a chronic problem for the city of Jakarta, in part because so much of the city is built on low-lying areas, and in part because of haphazard and ill-advised development decisions in the past. The East Flood Canal was first designed in 1973 in an effort to reduce the problem, but commitment to the project was inconsistent until 2003 when President Megawati announced that work was to go forward on the project. Digging began in November of 2003, and associated land acquisition and construction continues to this day. The canal will redirect five rivers, and will carve a path one hundred-meters wide and five-meters deep along twenty-three kilometers. Some 401 hectares of land are needed for the project,218 and a Jakarta-based NGO estimates that this will require the resettlement of around 500,000 people.219 Human Rights Watch interviewed residents facing eviction due to this project who reported intimidation to accept compensation, inadequate compensation for expected losses, and corruption during the assessment and compensation process.

Discriminatory Impact of Notification Process on Women

Communities in most parts of Indonesia are traditionally headed by men, but the government’s duty to consult and notify affected populations about pending evictions applies to all those who will be affected, irrespective of gender.220 Jakarta’s government consistently fails to compensate for existing gender biases in the notification and consultation process related to evictions. As a result, women are excluded from decisions on issues including when to move, whether their family should accept compensation or alternative land, or on the adequacy of the compensation. In certain communities the government may need to take proactive steps to ensure that women are adequately involved in consultations and are made aware of impending evictions, for example, by organizing separate community meetings specifically for women, or conducting outreach to women well-respected or with influence in the community. This is particularly important for female-headed households who may be marginalized from the larger community structures, and may therefore be disproportionately affected by an eviction.

Sri Suharti, a forty-three-year-old woman who runs a small shop next to her home under the train-track flyover bridge in Cikini, told us how the notification process failed to reach her because the men never shared the content of the letter they had received: “[The community] received notification twice through the head of the village and the sub-district office. [The community] received a letter. It was the men who read it.”221

Sujatmi Wadud explained how the failure of the government to inform her adequately about what was going to happen left her confused by the reasons for the eviction. “I didn’t really understand why [the eviction happened]. There were the group leaders who got the [eviction] letters. I just saw this piece of paper, but I didn’t understand it. It was the group leaders who got the letters, not the rest of the community.”222

Eviction: Siliwangi Housing Complex, Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta

Most of the twenty-seven families evicted  from Siliwangi Housing Complex by thugs under the watchful eyes of the military on December 22,2005, are relatives of armed forces veterans from Indonesia’s fight for independence who have lived on the land since 1950. In 1984, personnel from the Jakarta Military command forcibly evicted the 600 residents, leading some of the families to file a complaint with the Central Jakarta District Court and the High Court. In 1989, both courts ruled that the residents had a rightful claim to the land and that the eviction was illegal. Nonetheless, while this legal process was still ongoing, the National Land Agency issued a land ownership certificate to the Ministry of Security and Defense. Lawyers for the residents claim that the Ministry’s ownership certificate is not legal because it was issued while there was still a legal dispute in progress over the land’s ownership.223


The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

Japan is currently Indonesia’s largest bilateral aid donor. Japan provides the largest portion of its assistance as concessional-rate loans (loans with below market rates of interest) directed through a Japanese government agency called the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).224 At present, JBIC loans support more than fifty economic and social development projects throughout Indonesia, including one project in Jakarta that has required large-scale evictions during the land acquisition process: the expansion of the Java railway line project, commonly referred to as the “Double-Double Track.”

Although JBIC recently adopted stricter internal guidelines that restrict the Bank from supporting projects that have detrimental social implications,225 the Bank has stipulated that these new guidelines will not apply to projects approved prior to 2003. This excludes the “Double-Double Track” project from coverage. (Details of JBIC’s new policy on involuntary resettlement of communities is provided in

Appendix 1: How to Submit an Objection to a JBIC Project.) Nonetheless, JBIC’s earlier policy on involuntary resettlement included a commitment that requires governments to develop a plan “to mitigate negative impacts of involuntary resettlement…[with the objective of the] restoring of living, income, etc., for project-affected people after resettlement.”226 Because JBIC does not make such plans public, it is impossible for Human Rights Watch or Indonesian NGOs to monitor precisely the extent to which the Indonesian government is adhering to the plan, but the evidence we do have gives serious grounds for concern. As noted above, residents evicted by the JBIC-funded “Double-Double Track” project were forced to sign false receipts for more compensation than they actually received, lost considerable personal property during evictions, and were intimidated by thugs prior to their eviction. In one instance, the eviction turned violent.

Human Rights Watch is also concerned about the lack of consultation between JBIC and Indonesian NGOs and civil society groups.227 None of the Indonesian NGOs that Human Rights Watch contacted have had any involvement with JBIC. None have ever been invited to participate in meetings related to project selection or project monitoring for any JBIC-funded project.

JBIC does not fund the land purchasing or land acquisition aspects of projects that it otherwise supports. The Embassy of Japan’s Counselor for Economy and Development Affairs explained the policy to Human Rights Watch by saying, “It’s hard to convince Japanese taxpayers why they should finance land acquisition. Because land is land, it’s not creating anything. So land acquisition is a pre-condition for making infrastructure, but it should be settled by the government itself—at least the financial aspect.”228 Even if this is the motive, the policy gives the appearance that Japan is willing to share the financial but not the social responsibilities and human rights obligations of economic cooperation and development. Human rights obligations extend beyond a state’s own borders. In addition to being responsible for the human rights implications of their own actions abroad, states are also under an affirmative duty to take steps through international assistance and co-operation toward the realization of human rights, including the right to adequate housing.229 Under international standards, international agencies should avoid involvement in projects which involve large-scale evictions or displacement of persons without the provision of all appropriate protection and compensation, and conducted in compliance with all human rights obligations.230

207 Human Rights Watch interview with Suryo Witoelar (not his real name), interviewed across the road from his demolished home, January 8, 2006. Suryo Witoelar’s home in Cakung Cilincing was destroyed on September 15, 2005.

208 Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, General Comment 7, para. 15; United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 1993/77: Forced Evictions, para. 3.

209 Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of FAKTA, January 9, 2006.

210 Human Rights Watch interview with Ibnu Darmawan (not his real name), interviewed under the railway tracks flyover where he still lives, on January 9, 2006. Ibnu Darmawan’s home in the same place under the flyover in Cikini was destroyed on March 12, 2005.

211 Human Rights Watch interview with Agus Adil (not his real name), Pondok Kopi, January 11, 2006.

212 Human Rights Watch interview with Jullieta Indriyanti (not her real name), Teluk Gong, January 14, 2006.

213  Human Rights Watch interview with Atin Rukiyah (not her real name), interviewed down the road from her destroyed home, on January 8, 2006. Atin Rukiyah’s home in Cakung Cilincing was destroyed on September 15, 2005.

214 International standards require governments to provide, prior to an eviction, “adequate and reasonable notice for all affected persons…information on the proposed evictions, and, where applicable, on the alternative purpose for which the land or housing is to be used,” Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, General Comment 7, para. 15(b)-(c).

215 Human Rights Watch interview with Rini Rumasilan (not her real name), West Jakarta, September 17, 2003.

216 Human Rights Watch interview with Agus Adil (not his real name), Pondok Kopi, January 11, 2006.

217 Human Rights Watch interview with Chahaya Utari (not his real name), a fifty-two-year-old fisherman, interviewed on January 24, 2006. Chahaya Utari’s home in Ancol Timur was destroyed on October 4, 2001.

218 Bambang Nurbianto, “Council okays use of reserve fund for canal work,” Jakarta Post, December 4, 2004.

219 Urban Poor Consortium, quoted in Ivan A. Hadar, “Presidential Regulation No. 36/2005: The Motherland for Public Interest,” INFID News, August 2005, p. 5; “Land disputes washing out East Flood Canal,” Jakarta Post, April 26, 2006.

220 The non-discrimination provisions of both the ICCPR (Arts. 2(1) and (3)) and the ICCESR (Arts. 2(2) and 3) impose an obligation upon Indonesia’s government to ensure that, when evictions do occur, they act appropriately to ensure that no form of discrimination is involved.  The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Indonesia ratified in 1984, also stipulates that states must refrain from any practice that discriminates against women and ensure that public authorities and institutions also comply with this obligation (Art. 2(d)).

221 Human Rights Watch interview with Sri Suharti (not her real name), Cikini, January 9, 2006.

222 Human Rights Watch interview with Sujatmi Wadud (not her real name), a twenty-three-year-old woman homemaker, interviewed January 20, 2006. Sujatmi Wadud’s home in Cengkareng Timur was destroyed on September 17, 2003.

223 Evi Mariani, “Military Families Protest Eviction,” Jakarta Post, November 12, 2003.

224 In financial year 2004 (April 2004 – March 2005), Japan provided US$977 million in concessional rate loans to Indonesia, and US$182 million in grant aid. Human Rights Watch interview with Koji Yonetani, Counselor for Economy and Development Affairs, Embassy of Japan, January 17, 2006.

225 Japan Bank for International Cooperation, “Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations,” April 2002, available at

226 Japan Bank for International Cooperation, JBIC Environmental Guidelines for ODA Loans, October 1999.

227 Human Rights Watch met with a senior official within JBIC’s Jakarta office, but he asked not to be named or directly quoted. Subsequent emails from Human Rights Watch to JBIC’s Jakarta office, including to both the official previously interviewed and to their public information contact, to establish an on-the-record interview were unsuccessful.

228 Human Rights Watch interview with Koji Yonetani, Counselor for Economy and Development Affairs, Embassy of Japan, January 17, 2006.  Although it used to also be World Bank policy not to provide financing for land acquisition related to World Bank funded projects, this has recently changed so that new policy loan funds are now available for land acquisition; email message from Lis Nainggolan, Social Sector Officer, World Bank Indonesia, to Human Rights Watch, April 17, 2006.

229 ICESCR, Art. 2(1): “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means.”

ICESCR Art. 11(1): “States Parties…recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living…including adequate food, clothing and housing….The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.”

230 Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, General Comment 2  – International technical assistance measures (Art. 22 of the Covenant), February 2, 1990, para. 6. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action also notes: “while development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights;” Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, A/CONF.157/23, July 12, 1993, Part I, para. 10.