House urged to cancel Omnibus Law deliberations, prioritise Covid-19 crisis

Source – March 30, 2020
YLBHI Director Asfinawati speaks at press conference in Jakarta – January 15, 2020 (Kompas)

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) has conveyed six demands to the House of Representatives (DPR) which will open its legislative sitting session today. One of the demands is asking the DPR to cancel the deliberations on the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation.

“We demand that the DPR cancel the Draft Omnibus Law deliberations which threaten poor communities facing the Covid-19 pandemic”, said YLBHI Director Asfinawati on Monday March 30.

Asfinawati said that given the current situation the DPR should focus on pursuing its oversight function of the government in its efforts to deal with and control Covid-19.

The DPR, she said, should also ensure that the state takes responsibility in meeting the ordinary people’s need in the face of the corona virus pandemic.

“Ensure that the state is responsible for providing all the ordinary people’s needs in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, including providing food, water, sanitation and financial assistance for the poor”, she said.

Asfinawati said that the government is obliged to protect communities in order not to worsen things for the vulnerable during the pandemic. Asfinawati said that the DPR is obliged to monitor government policies which could potentially increase the vulnerability of communities.

“Including guaranteeing K3 [work safety and health] protection for workers and stop forced evictions during agrarian conflicts which make communities even more vulnerable to being exposed to disease during the Covid-19 pandemic”, said Asfinawati.

Issues of gender justice are also associated with government policies on handling Covid-19. Asfinawati hopes that the government will respect gender equality in the policies which it applies.

“[We are] urging the government to take measures to reduce gender impact and ensure that dealing with Covid-19 does not ignore gender justice”, she said.

Furthermore, Asfinawati is urging the DPR to immediately discuss reallocating state budget (APBN) items from other sectors to the handing and control of Covid-19.

According to Asfinawati, many state budget items could be temporarily cut and redirected to healthcare programs and the safety of the ordinary people.

“Together with the government cutting and reallocating APBN items to guarantee the health and safety of the ordinary people, including cutting items for DPR members’ wages and allowances and redirecting BUMN [state-owned enterprises] to provide APD [protective clothing] for medical workers and poor communities”, she said.

She is also asking the DPR to continue pushing the government to provide the most transparent information possible on Covid-19 based on the principles of human rights (HAM).

“Ensure government information given to the public on Covid-19 is accurate, timely and non-discriminative, and consistent with the principles of HAM”, said Asfinawati.

This afternoon, the DPR is scheduled to hold a plenary meeting to open the 3rd legislative session for 2019-2020. According to the official agenda, the plenary meeting will open at 2pm at the parliamentary complex in Senayan, Jakarta.

DPR Speaker Puan Maharani says that this legislative session represents the DPR’s concrete commitment to carrying out its duties as the “absorber” of the ordinary people’s aspirations.

Maharani promised that the DPR will immediately provide solutions to the government on handling the corona virus pandemic.

“In this emergency period, all of the DPR’s activities will be directed to helping overcome the corona epidemic. If there is no plenary session, then the DPR’s status would be one of being still in recess, it couldn’t carry out it functions to the maximum”, she said on Monday.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “DPR Diminta Batalkan Pembahasan Omnibus Law, Prioritaskan Penanganan Covid-19”.]