JAKARTA: To escape Jakarta’s searing heat, a family of three scavengers took shelter under a leafy tree at the side of a busy street. Next to them on the concrete pavement was a cart filled with empty plastic bottles and cups they had collected earlier that day. A hundred metres ahead, another group of scavengers, beggars and buskers napped on cardboard boxes underneath an overpass.These people survive by collecting recyclables or panhandling for loose change from passers-by, but in the eyes of the Indonesian law, they are criminals. Their offence? Being homeless.Currently, the Indonesian Criminal Code penalises the homeless with a maximum sentence of three months in prison, and up to six months if they travel in a group of three or more people over the age of 16.The Indonesian parliament is currently deliberating a revision to the Criminal Code, which is modelled after the code used by the Dutch colonial government since 1872, decades before Indonesia gained independence in 1945.Despite opposition from experts and activists who have called it outdated and ineffective, lawmakers have opted to keep the anti-homeless provision in the latest version of the Bill, although the proposed punishment has been reduced to a maximum fine of one million rupiah (US$70).The… Read full this story
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