Indonesian citizens have finally won the case for citizens right to breathe clean, pollution-free air for the second time. Jakarta residents urged the Jakarta governor and other top government officials to take stern action against President Joko Widodo and the Governor of West Java and requested that air quality be improved in 2019.
In 2021, the Central Jakarta District Court found the federal Government guilty of neglecting seven states’ air pollution and the health of residents. The officials found guilty are the Minister of Environment and Forestry, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Home Affairs, and three governors: the Governor of the Special Capital Region of Jakarta Province and the Governor of Banten.
“First, partially granting the defendants’ claim. Second, stating that the President, Minister of the Environment and Forestry (MOEF), Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA), Minister of Health (MoH), and the Governor of Jakarta have committed an unlawful act. Third, punishing Defendant I to set a stricter national ambient air quality standards sufficient to protect human health, the environment, and ecosystems, including the health of sensitive population, according to the scientific and technological development,” said the chairman of the panel of judges, Saifuddin Zehri, in the courtroom of the Central Jakarta District Court on September 16, 2022.
Saifuddin Zehri took six more harsh measures and punished the governors found guilty and President PF Jakarta. The landmark decision obliges the Government to establish ambient air quality standards to protect vulnerable groups and develop air pollution control strategies involving the public.
Considering the judgments of the plaintiffs and the defense team and the panel judges, Ayu Eza Tiara said, “We see that our demands are partially granted. The judge denied any human rights violations, but our other demands were granted. Banten and West Java governors, despite not being punished, should cooperate to ensure other defendants can perform the tasks the court compels them to do. Even so, we consider that this decision is a right and wise decision, considering that all evidence presented clearly shows that the Government had been negligent in controlling [Jakarta’s] air pollution.”
Activists from Greenpeace Indonesia and the Ibukota Alliance staged an action in front of Jakarta City Hall, Jakarta, in 2022, one year after the court ruled that the Indonesian Government was guilty of failing to uphold citizens’ right to clean air.
Indonesian citizens got the right to breathe fresh air. Although the president and other defendants appealed, the High Judicial Council upheld the preliminary ruling in October 2022. So November 2022 marks another victory for Indonesian citizens on air pollution, bringing them legal relief and health.