Police, military criticised for supporting red-light district eviction

Police, military criticised for supporting red-light district eviction
People demolish a cafe building at Kalijodo red-light district in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 23, 2016 in this picture taken by Antara Foto. Indonesia aims to shutdown all of the country's red-light districts by 2019 in a bid to eradicate prostitution in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, the Jakarta Post said late Tuesday quoting the social affairs minister.
PHOTO: Reuters

The police and military should not be supporting Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's plan to demolish the Kalijodo red-light district in West Jakarta, as such a role is not part of their job descriptions, a human rights activist says.

The eviction of people from the land, whose status is still disputed, is not part of the police's responsibilities, while the Indonesian Military (TNI) should completely stay away from such domestic affairs because their duty is to defend the country, public lawyer with the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) Alldo Fellix Januardy said on Wednesday

Previously, the Jakarta Police and Jakarta Military Command (Pandam Jaya) expressed their willingness to provide support for the eviction of the sex trade hotspot, which the administration says is occupying state land.

"The police should take a neutral position in a situation where there are efforts to violate resident's rights," Alldo told thejakartapost.com, adding that the police and military's involvement in forced evictions in the past had often led to violations of the rights of Jakarta residents.

In 2015, the police and military were involved in 67 and 65 forced evictions, respectively, while the Public Order Agency was involved in 108 forced evictions ofJakarta residents accused of occupying state land.

Indonesia has ratified the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) convention with the issuance of Law No 11/2005. As such, the government is obligated to protect all citizens by not carrying out forced evictions.

Based on the stipulations of the convention, the government is required to talk to the people before the eviction and provide them with fair compensation.

LBH Jakarta recorded that from 113 forced-eviction cases, in 95 eviction cases, the Jakarta city administration did not initiate dialogue with residents, while in 72 cases, the city administration did not offer fair compensation to evicted residents.

He criticised Ahok for continuing with the forced evictions this year.

LBH Jakarta called on the administration to involve civil society groups to help find solutions for spatial planning issues and to avoid forced evictions.

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