INDONESIA: UN Human Rights Committee highlights serious human rights violations in Indonesia – the Indonesian Government must stop the chain of impunity

(Hong Kong, May 02, 2024) 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRS) supports the statement of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a famous national non-Governmental organisation (NGO) in Indonesia, regarding the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee issuing a document of observations (concluding observations) and recommendations regarding the human rights situation in Indonesia through the components contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on March 28, 2024.

This document summarises the issues that were discussed on March 11 – 12, 2024, in Geneva, Switzerland, starting from issues of impunity and gross violations of human rights which occurred in the past, violence in Papua, the narrowing of civil space, business and human rights, violations in the election process, torture, the death penalty, judicial independence, corruption, gender, and discrimination.

In one of its notes, the Committee highlighted the chain of impunity that still exists in Indonesia due to patterns of violence by security forces against civilians. This pattern can be seen from the widespread execution of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, as well as past cases of serious human rights violations which have never been resolved through the human rights courts. Some of the cases raised were the premeditated murder of Munir Said Thalib, the case of the forced disappearance of student activists in 1997-1998, the murder of the Paniai indigenous community in 2014, the mass graves of victims of the 1965-1966 massacre, violence and extrajudicial killings that often occur among Papuan indigenous communities, the 1999 Timor-Leste referendum related violence, the 2003 Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the absence of effective redress for victims and their families as well as non-judicial channels (Non-Judicial Settlement Team for Past Gross Human Rights Violations – PPHAM) which were used as a mechanism for resolving past serious human rights violations

We do believe that the report reflects the Indonesian Government’s lack of seriousness in ending the chain of impunity in Indonesia. In every international forum, the Indonesian Government often makes defenses that are not based on facts by claiming that democratic practices continue to advance and improve. The Indonesian Government also does not fail to glorify the concept of respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of the civil society as stated in international human rights law. In fact, this is in direct contrast to the facts on the ground where violence is often used as a weapon by security forces and law enforcers against the civil society, where this seems to be normalised.

According to KontraS, a famous human rights NGO in Indonesia, the data shows that as many as seven cases of violence by security forces against civilians in Papua were discovered during early this year (2024). The pattern of violence is in the form of abuse, shootings, arbitrary arrests and torture, proving the strong culture of violence under the Police and Military institutions. This culture can also be illustrated through 49 cases of violence last year (in 2023) where 41 civilians were declared dead and 67 civilians were injured. Not long ago, the National Police also announced a discourse to place 10,000 personnel in Papua, where the condition of over-deployment exacerbated the climate of fear felt by the people in Papua. However, looking back at the Indonesian Government’s statement at the ICCPR session, the Government does not acknowledge the existence of a pattern of militarisation in Papua.

Resolving past cases of serious human rights violations has also been ignored. This is because President Joko Widodo stopped his steps in encouraging the resolution of violations in the form of a narrative of ‘regret’ as he conveyed at the Merdeka Palace on January 11, 2023, where he acknowledged 12 cases of serious human rights violations. However, the formation of the Non-Judicial Resolution Team for Past Gross Human Rights Violations (PPHAM) has undermined the hopes of the victims’ families to obtain appropriate justice. The Indonesian Government seems to have forgotten the legal basis in the form of the Law, No. 26 of 2000 concerning Human Rights Courts as a mandate or obligation to resolve cases of serious human rights violations as one of the things that can restore victims and their families and obtain justice.

The persistence of impunity and weak accountability of the Indonesian Government towards the victims and their families can be seen through four cases of past gross human rights violations that have been tried, but where the perpetrators were declared free. The four cases are Tanjung Priok, East Timor, Abepura and Paniai. The empty foundation of international law, namely the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), also makes it easier for perpetrators to wander around the world and demand that they be placed as public officials.

Reviewing the above elaboration, we urge:

  1. The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to encourage and coordinate regarding the results of observations and recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee to all relevant Ministries and institutions
  2. The Indonesia Parliament to encourage the ratification of international conventions related to the observations of the UN Human Rights Committee, such as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR (OP-ICCPR), and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or PunishmentA (OP-CAT).
  3. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to immediately complete investigations into cases of past gross human rights violations including the premeditated murder of Munir Said Thalib, which has been delayed for a long time without any reason for stalling.