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In a Landmark Case, Slum Dwellers in Indonesia Challenge the Eviction Law

According to the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, which has been helping evicted families, there were 113 forced evictions last year, with each round typically involving many dwellings

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FILE - A woman walks past a partly demolished houses ahead of an eviction by the government in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 20, 2016. VOA

October 1, 2016: Slum dwellers in Indonesia have launched a landmark legal case to challenge a decades-old law which has been used to forcibly remove thousands of families, amid a wave of evictions in the country’s capital.

The case comes as authorities ramp up efforts to clear housing along a main river bank in Jakarta, the sprawling capital of 10 million people, to pave the way for an ambitious flood mitigation project.

Local residents have asked the court to declare a law enacted in 1960 as unconstitutional as it “gives the government a great authority to take the land from the people” without due consultation, court documents show.

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“I see more and more people suffering like me. This is wrong, this is inhumane,” said Mansur Daud, who was evicted last year from a slum in west Jakarta to make way for the project.

The 54-year-old hawker launched the legal challenge with two others this week, saying they want justice to be upheld.

FILE - A man inspects his house ahead of an eviction by the government in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 20, 2016. VOA
FILE – A man inspects his house ahead of an eviction by the government in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 20, 2016. VOA

“There was no dialogue, no compensation. I have to live at my parents’ house now, my children were traumatized by the eviction, where is the justice?” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

The 1960 law prohibits the use of land without permission from the rightful owner, but land rights advocates argue it has long been invoked in favor of the authorities.

Lawyer Alldo Fellix Januardy said the law unfairly targets slum dwellers and the poor who cannot provide proof of land ownership, due to a legacy of unclear and overlapping land titles, as well as bureaucracy in Indonesia.

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However, he said, this was exacerbated by the fact that the law does not require the government to provide the same proof of title when it is used to evict the residents.

“The problem with land evictions in Indonesia is that nobody has a [land ownership] certificate,” said Januardy, who specializes in land rights cases and represents the slum dwellers.

“If nobody has a certificate, then the court should be the one to decide whose land it is but the government never sends cases to court, they just evict people because of this law.

“If we win the case, every forced eviction must be decided through the court before it happens,” the lawyer added.

The Constitutional Court has yet to fix a date to start hearing the case.

The Jakarta city government has defended its move and vowed to push ahead with the evictions despite criticism.

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Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said the project was necessary to prevent annual floods during monsoon season, and alternative housing had been provided to those affected.

According to the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, which has been helping evicted families, there were 113 forced evictions last year, with each round typically involving many dwellings. A total of 8,145 families and 6,283 small businesses were affected in 2015, the group said.

Another 325 evictions were set to take place this year, the institute said, citing the government’s planning documents.

The latest round of eviction took place Wednesday, which saw bulldozers demolish a waterfront shanty town in Jakarta. It went without protest, but past evictions have sometimes resulted in violence.

In August last year, security forces fired teargas and water cannon after they clashed with residents while clearing a flood-prone area in the capital, with 27 people arrested. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?