Development Governance Indonesia

Water Privatisation

Water privatisation is a human rights violation, said the Central Jakarta Disctrict Court in their ruling of March 24, 2015.

The court invalidated the contract of PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya and Aetra and found that the public and private partnership was negligent in respecting and fulfilling the human right to water for Jakarta residents.

This decision is a culmination of years of legal struggles and political resistances involving major human rights organisations, trade unions, and water justice organisations. Complaints include that the water service has been lower and leakages have been increasing since the agreement signed in 2004 following the pressure from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Moreover, Jakarta has the highest water tariff, about four times more than the Indonesian average and ten times more than that of Southeast Asian countries.

Important to note in this decision is that, first, the Court deliberately made a reference to Article 28 I of the Constitution that asserts, among others, the right to life.  They were of the opinion that no violations were found to the aspect of water availability, which is the subject of natural resource management as asserted in Article 33 of the Constitution. However, the Court found evidences on the hindrance of access to water since the implementation of the private and public partnership and therefore considered it as a human rights violation. Second, the court annulled the Law No. 7 of 2004,  which regulates the availability of water in Indonesia. The Law was considered insufficient to provide benchmarks pertaining to what extent private actors can have the authority over the governance of access and availability of water.

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