Indonesia Groups Appeal Denial of Water Agreement

6 February 2012

A group of Indonesian NGOs led by the People’s Coalition on the Right to Water (KRuHA) is appealing to the National Information Commission the government’s refusal to provide details about the privatization of the water utility in Jakarta.

The groups have been seeking access to the agreement that provides the framework for the production and distribution of clean water in the city.  The Water Agreement is jointly regulated by the Jakarta Water Sector Regulatory Body, the private firm PAM Jaya and its concessionary bodies.

Water law expert from the Center for Water Governance Universitas Ibn Khaldun Bogor, Mohamad Mova al-Afghani,  is quoted in the groups’ press release as saying that a  UN Independent Expert report  stresses that the terms of reference and the final contract should be made available for public scrutiny. Al-Afghani said, “Commercial confidentiality must not jeopardize the transparency requirements provided for under the human rights framework.”

“As a natural monopoly, utilities claim for confidentiality is often not justifiable,” al-Afghani continued. “The problem is not only in holding the government accountable in its dealings withthe private sector, but information from the contract is crucial for the customer to know theirrights. It is absurd that customer’s rights are dubbed ‘commercial confidentiality’” he said.

Mohamad Reza from the People’s Coalition on the Right to Water added: “Ever since the contract was concluded, the public is considered as a “third party” without any meaningful voice. We want water to be returned to politics and this can only be started if there is transparency.”

 Rahmat Bagja from the Center for Law Information (CeLI) will coordinate the legal processes.

ARTICLE 19, the British group that advocates on free expression issues, said in a statement that it supports the effort.

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