International Human Rights Law
Indonesian Human Rights & Its Violations
World's largest archipelago nation at the meeting point of Indian Ocean to the
Pacific Ocean. Having land borders with three countries; East Timor, Papua New
Guinea and Malaysia with world's only two triple split nation islands with the
capital and the most populous city, Jakarta located on the Java Island.
history of Indonesia has witnessed dramatic changes not just geographically but
also politically. With having Human Rights introduced after the fall of Suharto
in 1998, both in law and in the constitution. Indonesia has the potential to
become a model emerging democracy that respects human rights nationally and
supports universal human rights standards across the world. Achieving this will
require President Joko Widodo to take a firm stand to protect the human rights
of Indonesia's marginalised groups – including religious minorities, migrant
workers, women, and Papuans – and to fight the culture of impunity which has
sheltered members of Indonesia's security forces for decades. ndonesia is
currently one of the many countries which is failing to comprehensively use
Human Rights as coherent medium providing protection of their citizen.
help of this paper we are going to closely look at the history of the
geographical, political and social formation of Indonesia as a country and how
it lacks human rights implementation as a democracy and the kinds of human
rights violations that have taken place before and after the establishment of
Along with this we will give a close look to the government
provisions and policies that have created unrest in the country among various
minority sections such as the LGBTQ community, women and children. The present
paper throws light upon the above mentioned situation and various other factors
such as various cases which relates violation of human rights in the said
country highlighting the need for Indonesia to comply with its human rights
Human rights situation in Indonesia
Since the early 21st century, importance of Human Rights have been acknowledged
as a universal criteria by the majority of nation states. Universal Declaration
of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948 adopted as the main paradigm in most of United
The urgent need for Human Rights was immediately followed by ratifying two
primary instruments; of International Human Rights namely International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social,
and Cultural Rights by many of UN member countries. This ratification carries a
responsibility of the nation state to ensure protection of the Human Rights to
However, many studies show that there are more countries committing
excessive violations of rights in comparison to countries providing protection
and acknowledgment of these rights. Several sample cases show the gap between
proper recognition and comprehension of its policies. There are still many
countries extensively failing in providing Human Rights as coherent medium to
ensure protection of their citizens. It is a situation where principles of Human
Rights are only reduced into diplomatic agenda of many states.
Indonesian Commitment and Compliance to International Human Rights Law
Integration between Human Rights and Legal Mechanism and the International Human
Rights is the primary agenda of promotion and protection of Human Rights
Defenders in Indonesia.
Indonesia has backed 7 key international Human Rights Law namely:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),
Indonesia officially ratified ICCPR in 2005 as this covenant is the most basic
Human Rights law instrument in the united nation. It was mainly adopted to
ensure religious freedom in the country.
- International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),
In order to ensure right to food and national stability ICESCR helps in bringing
in the national policies in ensuring basic Human Rights.
- International Conventional on Eradication of All Forms of Racial
ICERD or the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination was approved and opened for signature by the United Nations on 21
December 1965. This convention entered into force on 4 January
1969. Conventional of Eradication of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),
The Government of Indonesia sanctioned The Convention on the Elimination of all
Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1984, and submitted four
periodic reports to the CEDAW Committee showing its progress in implementing the
treaty. But a long way to go for stronger implementation.
- UN Convention against Torture (CAT),
It has been 20 years since the ratification of the International Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)
even then Indonesian police continue to be the most common offenders of torture.
In 2017, the AHRC documented numerous cases of torture and ill-treatment
conducted by the police. Such instances will be discussed in the paper.
- Convention Rights of the Child (CRC),
25 years since the ratification of UNCRC in Indonesia and although major
developments have been made in protection of Child Rights. Certain laws and
policies continue to hamper the rights.
- International Convention on Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers
and Their Family.
The Indonesian parliament adopted the international treaty in 2012. It is one of
the nine core treaties of the international human rights system.
It is important for us, to understand these primary International Human Rights
Law instruments that have been consented by the Government of Indonesia which
are automatically acknowledged as a part of Indonesian positive law as mentioned
in Act 39/1999 on Human Rights Article 7 (2) as follows: “International Law on
Human Rights ratified by Republic of Indonesia become national law.”
However, there is an impression that ratification of International Human Rights
legal instruments is mere theoretical in action as the government is not fully
committed to implement them in the country. Even thought, in addition, the
Government of Indonesia has been actively involved as members of UN Human Rights
Reality Of Protection Of Human Rights
Even after numerous steps being taken by the government. It failed to protect
the human rights defenders in the country, while restricting the rights such as;
freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, etc. The abuse of
arbitrary power by applying criminal law provisions and reducing legitimate
expression has caused the failure in human rights implementation. Security
forces committing human rights violations with large immunity, using excessive
force during policing and security operations. The violence increasing in Papua,
involving both peaceful and violent reactions to racist verbal attacks and
violence against Papuans.
- Police and security forces
There have been recordings and videos made as proof of the ill-treatment and
brutality done by the police while exerting excessive force. Such actions have
been verified as authentic videos, where it showed the police kicking and
beating men who were clearly not resisting. These actions further have been
confirmed by witnesses, victims, and victims' families.
The police have also held the protesters arbitrarily and refused to communicate
detaining such protesters for at least several days without proper warrants. In
response to this, there has been massive public outcry about the ill-treatment
done by the police in and outside the police premises and custody.
been claims of human rights violations done by such arbitrary police officers
where 16 police officers have been held responsible for human rights violations
being committed during the protests. They were held accountable, however, it was
through non-transparent, internal disciplinary mechanisms rather than criminal
prosecutions. Nine people were killed in Jakarta and one in Pontianak, many of
them from gunshot wounds during the May protests. The police claimed that none
of its officers used live ammunition. No police was arrested nor were any
suspects identified. 
- Freedom of Expression and Association
Indonesian students have protested against the new law which weakens the
Corruption Eradication Commission. This protest was held nation as, these
changes included in the drafting of the criminal code. The petition demanded the
government to prosecute corporations involving the forest fires, stop
militarization in West Papua, investigating past gross human rights abuses, and
stopping criminalizing activists. Two students were killed in Kendari, South
East Sulawesi, and hundreds were injured.
While, police arrested a documentary filmmaker Dandhy Laksono after he posted a
tweet about violence in Jayapura and Wamena, Papua. He was charged with
violating the online hate speech law.
- Women's Rights
There have been a number of changes in the plight of women when it comes to
their basic human rights. Some instances show development in the behaviour of
the society in which they perceive women and some just make you feel that there
have no improvements whatsoever. The case where the Supreme Court acquitted a
15-year-old girl who had been convicted by the lower courts for aborting her
pregnancy resulting after being raped by her brother is one such sign of
Along with that, the president signed a decree pardoning Baiq Nuril,
after the Supreme Court upheld the decisions convicting her of defamation for
recording her superior sexually harassing her in a phone call, which went viral.
This indicates improvement in the Women's Rights but there is a need for a more
supportive and humane legal and systemic protection for victims of sexual
violence. Even though parliament has considered the Sexual Violence Eradication
bill over the course of the year, but did not pass it into law.
The Jokowi government failed to stop abusive, unscientific “virginity tests” of
women who apply to join the military, or to institute measures to curb female
genital mutilation, which continues to be used in rites of passage in some
areas. Parliament also failed to pass a draft bill on sexual violence.
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Indonesia has not considered the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in the
country. It is among the most controversial provisions of the criminal code
which punishes extramarital sex by up to one year in jail.
While, the provision does not specifically mention same-sex conduct, same-sex
relationships but taking away the recognition of such sexes and genders is
equally alarming. The Papua uprising and these rushed legislative amendments
triggered the biggest nationwide protests in 20 years against Jokowi's ruling
coalition, prompting Jokowi to have parliament delay voting on the draft
criminal code and three other bills until 2020. 
- Rights of the Refugees
On 25 June 2020, a boat carrying 94 Rohingya refugees entered North Aceh after
local people urged the authorities and protested to let the refugees be brought
to the shore. The boat was spotted by local fishermen who reported the findings
to local authorities. The survivours were brought to a local mosque.
The international laws imposes a duty upon the country to give shelter and
protect the rghts of those who arrive at their shore.
Indonesia is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of
Refugees (Refugee Convention) or its 1967 Protocol. However, the principle of
non-refoulement is also protected under general international human rights law,
as well as customary international law, which is binding on all states without
exception. The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration also enshrines the right to “seek
and receive asylum.” Moreover, the ban on collective expulsions is implicit in
Article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which
Indonesia is a state party.
- Indigenous People Rights
The rights of Indigenous people have been affected by a number of things namely,
patchwork of weak laws, poor governance by the leaders and also failure of paper
pulp companies and oil plantation to fulfil their human rights responsibilities.
All of these factors have contributed in affecting the rights of Indigenous
people to their livelihood, forests, water, food and culture.
In 2004, West Kalimantan, Iban locals were pushed off their territory by an oil
palm organization, PT Ledo Lestari, when bulldozers and other equipment rolled
in to destroy their property. After 10 years, PT Ledo Lestari consented to
arrangements with certain families to move their homes a couple of kilometers
into the plantations yet didn't give any remuneration to the loss of their
indigenous woods and livelihoods derived from it.
Their community is currently situated inside the organization's oil palm estate,
leaving them no land to develop food and continue their job. The woodland has
been majorly wrecked, including plants they use for food and materials used to
make mats and bins they used to offer to enhance family income.
In Jambi, Sumatra, the organization PT Sari Aditya Loka 1 didn't sufficiently
consult with an indigenous gathering, the Orang Rimba, who were constrained off
their territorial land, and didn't mitigate the damage and harm even after prior
legal reforms had acquainted clear commitments with do as such. The organization
till date hasn't provided this Indigenous group with any meaningful remedies
nor sorted out any important conferences nor agreed to give solutions for the Orang Rimba uprooted from their timberlands. Numerous Orang Rimba are currently
destitute, living in plastic tents without occupation uphold, and in servile
Human Rights In Indonesia And International Relations
It is of great importance to know about the human rights situation in Indonesia
along with the global scenario of human rights. One can say that, while the
local processes aren't very powerful and also slow, foreign contribution on the
other hand is welcomed with open hands. The human rights promoters have got
encouragement at this level. Be that as it may, the nation has gone through
striking changes, with suggestions to the manner in which it is globally
observed, to the sort of help it gets, and to the internal human rights
By and large, changes inside Indonesia are globally observed as an
interesting improvement as a democratic process. Survivors and common society
associations are profoundly commended. A large number of dollars, skill and
information have been made accessible to encourage democratic change. The world,
through innovation, is being opened for Indonesia.
For the Indonesian government, this circumstance makes it more agreeable to
discuss basic liberties, particularly with the international concern
representatives abroad. Global actors, for example, the U.S. government and the
EU, have highlighted Indonesia as a central participant of the greatest Muslim
popularity based nation.
Indonesia has led to the accomplishment of 2 important goals within the ASEAN,
namely the adoption of the ASEAN Charter and secondly, the establishment of the
(AICHR) ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.
It is notable to take into account that at the International level in the United
Nations, Indonesians have received more recognition and some of them have even
got elected to key posts, such as Mr. Makariam Winisono who got elected to be
the president of the Human Rights Council (2005) Indonesia has taken an advanced
take on Myanmar (Burma) and on Middle East issues. The nation has been perceived
as an extraordinary monetary force and joined the G20, the expansion of G8,
alongside Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, India and different nations.
These universally acclaimed accomplishments overshadow human rights issues. The
government's understanding and managing of basic liberties and human rights
still remains the same. At the point when the Indonesian president talked at the
United Nations Post-Millennium Development Goals discussion, he proposed the
possibility of international standard for religious slander. At the ASEAN
gathering, Indonesia marked the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, which contains
many flawed provisions – on public security, cultural relativity, national
interest, consensus principles, and non-interference.
undermine the Constitutional provisions and International human rights
conventions. Because of the nation's developing role in world undertakings and
to the financial development — the country made the transition from poor to
middle income status, the world is now looking at Indonesia as a new key
player. The pattern of foreign assistance has changed. Enormous organizations
have moved their help from common society to government workplaces. Some
unfamiliar NGOs working in Indonesia regularly produce refined reports without
having a persuasive backing inside the nation, or with free coordinated effort
with nearby substances. They end up by contending with neighborhood NGOs to pick
up help from donors.
Abuse of impunity and the government shortcoming don't drive global
consideration and attention. Truth be told, on account of Indonesia, following
16 years of political change, some worldwide elements are taking a gander at the
Indonesian government as a central participant to manage others' 'most
noticeably terrible' circumstance, similar to Burma.
In the case of Indonesia, it is very clear that the rights of people are still
ignored and neglected, both internally and internationally.
Resistance and deadlock
The government often tends to overlook many important aspects of human rights
protection. The more the government performs unduly and maintain impunity, the
more people strive to ensure that justice for their rights which are being
violated. With increasing number of violations, the number of victims have also
increased and thus leads to solidarity amongst them. The feeling of
disappointment towards government officials and judicial decisions seems to be
Individuals resort to lawful systems, massive campaigns and
strikes, including social media crusades, depend on worldwide pressure, and can
rely on a modest bunch of columnists. Culprits' and the State's contra-backing,
and government's perspectives lead to gridlocks, which disseminate widespread
desperation among individuals.
The human rights law and other related laws give grievance mechanisms, which
victims use to report their cases or circumstances. unfortunately, these
mechanisms have shortfalls to act properly. Courts, in numerous districts,
have similar poor performance. Then again, NGOs, common society associations,
and survivors have scarce means to protect themselves and often lacks solid
proofs. Satisfactory outcomes are not many. The most successful case was the
trial of crime against humanity in East Timor (Timor Leste), but in the end the
wrongdoers were acquitted.
(International Center For Transitional Justice; Commission For The
Disappeared And Victims Of Violence, 2011, p. 49-50)
The public intervention took form by organising various kinds of symbolic
campaigns, massive strikes. Different artists were involved in solidarity events
and social issues were highlighted by art groups from different regions, they
voiced their social problems and injustices which they faced.
Social media was
seen as a tool which was used to spread awareness and demand changes. Instagram,
Facebook, Twitter were used to spread slogans and awareness and online sites
such as Change.org were used to file petitions, thus social media offered a
platform to raise their concerns. Jakarta is noted as the world's most active
city in terms of tweets posted. The reach and power of social media eases the
way for people to engage in campaigning.
The labour groups and the stakeholders organised massive demonstrations for
issues relating to natural resources and issues concerning the fishermen,
farmers and indigenous people. These campaigns were organised with the aim of
attracting government's attention in view of negligence shown by official
institutions and also poor mediation which was performed by them on social
problems faced by the poor.
All of this resulted in frustration and disregard
for the government which further led to use of force by some individuals; some
individuals reclaimed a disputed land, blocked ships of fish companies in
traditional water zones and also conducted strikes in many industrial
establishments. All such actions gave a reason to the government to arrest such
individuals, they further criminalised their actions were considered to be
provocative in public space and thus some persons got arrested and were
subjected to harmful treatment.
Human rights can be said to be the language of freedom which claims for justice,
truth and remedies. Even though human rights are not on headlines, but they are
still a very important issue of interest for people around the world.
It's the language and the exercise of numerous individuals, particularly the
individuals who were affected by extensive and constant maltreatments. It is the
language of freedoms and claims for justice , truth & remedies. In spite of the
fact that individuals everywhere know about their privileges, there is
skepticism when human rights mechanisms do not present an earnest & quick
response to the circumstances. Then again, we can see how various alternatives
have been taken by victims to survive and maintain the hope for justice to
Key International Actors
In January, Indonesia started its two-year term on the United Nations Security
Council, picking peacekeeping as the topic of its May presidency yet generally
declining on delicate issues, including the continuous humanitarian and human
rights emergency in Venezuela.
At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and in the UN General Assembly's Third
Committee in New York, Indonesia was among the Muslim-dominant part nations that
didn't sign a statement supporting China's strategies in Xinjiang that
overlooked far reaching restraint of regions of Muslims. The Xinjiang issue
has been a key trial of whether individuals from the Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC), including Indonesia, will press China to end its foundational
maltreatments against Muslims. The 57-nation OIC has generally stayed quiet.
In the month of August, Indonesia and Australia signed an agreement for free
trade. Prime Minister Scot Morrison witnessed the signing along with president
Jokowai in Jakarta. Both countries are among the world's top 20 economies.
On June 23, heads of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),
including Jokowi, met in Bangkok, however didn't approach Myanmar to give a way
to citizenship to Rohingya Muslims, including somewhere in the range of 730,000
who fled Rakhine State to get away from an ethnic purging effort composed by
Myanmar's military in 2017 and who presently live in Bangladesh or are looking
for shelter in other ASEAN nations. The European Union-Indonesia human rights
dialogue occurred in November in Brussels; the European Union raised concerns on
certain arrangements in the draft criminal code, including capital punishment.
Indonesia is a culturally dense nation which makes it a prime focus for the
country to ensure and protect the Human Rights of all the people of the country.
The paper has highlighted the challenge of impunity for human rights violations
in present Indonesia, and has also thrown light upon the role of civil society
organisations at both national and international levels in order to resist the
perpetuation of human rights abuses.
- Amnesty International, Overview
- Human Rights Watch, Indonesia, World Report 2020: Events of
- Amnesty International Indonesia: Aceh community shows ‘best of humanity'
in pushing for Rohingya rescue, 25 June 2020
- Amnesty International, Overview Indonesia:
- Amnesty International, Indonesia, 2019
- Human Rights Watch, Indonesia, World Report 2020: Events of 2019
- Amnesty International Indonesia: Aceh community shows ‘best of humanity'
in pushing for Rohingya rescue, 25 June 2020
- Indonesia Events of 2019” available at-https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/indonesia (last
accessed on 12.10.2020)
- Human rights struggle in Indonesia by Haris Azhar , available
accessed on 12.10.20)
- Indonesia 2019, Amensty International, available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/indonesia/report-indonesia/ (last
accessed on 12.10.2020)