JAKARTA (11 June 2013) – Indonesia faces huge challenges in promoting and protecting the right to adequate housing, “such as rapid urbanisation, the concentration of population in high density informal settlements in urban areas and acute vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change,” the United Nations expert on adequate housing said today.
The country has a “unique window of opportunity” in the next few years to address these challenges, and to manage urbanisation and economic development to ensure inclusive growth that also benefits the poor, Special Rapporteur Raquel Rolnik noted.
“I am concerned that in some cases development is having a retrogressive impact on the right to adequate housing,” Ms. Rolnik said, referring to the practice of evictions related to development by State and private entities in both rural and urban areas.
Ms. Rolnik underlined that evictions are a gross violation of international human rights law. “I call on the Government to ensure that legislation regulating evictions is in line with Indonesia’s international human rights obligations and is duly enforced on State agencies and third parties,” she said.
At the end (*) of her first country visit to Indonesia, she stressed that “more can and must be done to prioritize the poorest and most marginalized segments of society in Government housing policies and programmes”.
Ms. Rolnik, the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the right to adequate housing worldwide, examined several housing policies and programmes, some targeting low-income households.
While commending the diversity of the programmes, which include the upgrading of informal settlements, and low income rental apartments, she expressed concern that the Government is currently concentrating its efforts and resources on housing finance policies, which may undermine access to adequate and affordable housing for the poor.
“Housing finance policies are inherently discriminatory against the poor - those living in informal settlements, working in the informal market and small-scale farmers, which represent the bulk of the Indonesian society, but cannot access formal credit and therefore cannot benefit from these policies,” she warned. She also noted that these policies may accelerate the spike in housing and land prices that Indonesia is already experiencing.
The Special Rapporteur called on the Government to channel the country’s economic and social resources to promote the right to housing of the poorest and most marginalized.
“One of the main assets of Indonesia is community organization, which is reflected in the culture of the inner city kampong. There are good examples of housing projects (particularly but not only in the disaster reconstruction context) that have harnessed the power of communities. These examples should serve as a model for the design and effective implementation of a National Pro-Poor Housing Strategy, based on human rights standards,” she recommended.
She urged the Government to design and implement a comprehensive land policy reform to increase the security of tenure of Indonesians and regulate the impact of market forces on land availability and affordability.
During her 12-day visit, Ms. Rolnik met senior government officials, donor agencies, international organizations, national human rights institutions, financial institutions, civil society and communities in Jakarta, Makassar, Surabaya and Yogyakarta.
The UN Special Rapporteur presented some preliminary findings and recommendations during a press conference today. These and other issues will be further developed in an official report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014.
Raquel Rolnik (Brazil) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2008. Her mandate was renewed in 2011. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx
(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur:
OHCHR – Country Page: Indonesia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IDIndex.aspx
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