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Jakarta residents win battle for clean air against government


A Jakarta court on Thursday ruled the Indonesian government had did not uphold citizens’ right to wash air, during a landmark judgment campaigners hope will force authorities to require action on the city’s notorious smog.

The long-awaited decision ends a two-year legal challenge brought by 32 Jakarta citizens against Indonesian President Joko Widodo, three cabinet ministers, the Jakarta governor, and two provincial leaders.

The court ruled that the defendants were guilty of “committing “unlawful acts” and failing to combat pollution within the capital.

They had violated the country’s environmental protection laws, said the decision, which called on top officials to determine a national ambient air quality standard, among a variety of other measures.

Jakarta, home to quite 10.5 million people, consistently ranks among the world’s worst cities for pollution.

Air pollution hangs over Jakarta on June 9, 2021.

Alghiffari Aqsa, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, called the decision “historic.”

“We hope all defendants accept this verdict because they also live here,” Aqsa said. “We hope that they abide by this verdict by executing all points through their action and strategic planning.” The lawyer for the defendants, who weren’t present in court on Thursday.

Before the ruling, Leonard Simanjuntak, country director for Greenpeace Indonesia and a plaintiff within the lawsuit as a personal citizen, said several claimants had faced significant health problems from breathing Jakarta’s “dirty air.”

He cited asthma, skin problems, and therefore the case of 1 plaintiff who developed an upper tract infection after moving to the town.

The citizens claimed the govt had been negligent in upholding its obligations in managing Jakarta’s pollution and had did not fulfill residents’ right to wash air.

“Not all folks have an equivalent sensitivity, but there are those experiencing health problems associated with the dirty air we breathe,” Simanjuntak said.

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