INDONESIA: Government’s denial at UN UPR very disappointing

(Hong Kong/Geneva/Jakarta 23 May 2012) Today, the Indonesia’s human rights record was reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council in the 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland. Key issues, such as the protection of freedom of religion or the human rights situation in Papua, were raised by many UN Member States participating in the review.

“The responses by the government of Indonesia to the issues and human rights violations discussed during the review were deeply disappointing, as they often contained only denials and showed a lack of respect for victims and their rights,” noted Wong Kai Shing, Executive Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

The AHRC and its sister-organisation the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) submitted reports to the review process, and made recommendations concerning a number of key human rights issues, including: the urgent need for the criminalisation of torture; institutional reforms needed to combat impunity, including to the military court system; religious discrimination and violence; and the human rights situation in the Papuan provinces, notably violations committed by with impunity by the Indonesian security forces. 

The full reports are available for download at

Many of the AHRC and ALRC’s concerns were shared by states conducting the review. Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, for example, expressed concerns regarding the persecution of religious minority groups in Indonesia, including Ahmadiyah, Christians, Shiites and the Baha’i. They urged the government of Indonesia to take measures against those who persecute religious minority groups and called for the withdrawal of discriminatory laws. 

While recognising that violence was being directed against religious minority groups, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Marty Natalegawa, who lead Indonesia’s delegation, denied allegations of government inaction regarding the protection of and respect for the freedom of religion. “The government of Indonesia respects all religions” he falsely claimed, despite discriminatory laws in the country. 

A number of states, including France, Japan and New Zealand, raised the situation in Papua, which includes widespread violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as unlawful restrictions of freedom of expression and assembly. France called in particular for access to Papua to be granted to foreign journalists. The US and Germany raised articles 106 and 110 of the Penal Code which are used abusively against activists in Papua. 

Natalegawa claimed that that all perpetrators of human rights abuses in Papua were being held accountable in ‘transparent and open courts’. The AHRC and other human rights groups have however documented cases of torture and violence which have not resulted in adequate responses by the Indonesian authorities, or resulted in those responsible being held accountable, but instead speak to a culture of impunity.

“The denial of the major problem of impunity in the Papuan provinces is irresponsible,” Wong Kai Shing stated. “The disappointing response by the government is a setback to the hopes of those who want to see greater protection and enjoyment of human rights in the country,” he concluded.

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-016-2012
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Freedom of religion, Human rights defenders,