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Indonesia to report 'frank assessment' of human rights record

Publication Date : 22-05-2012


The Indonesian government says it will deliver a frank assessment of the country’s human rights record when it reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who will deliver the report at the UNHRC’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, said that the report would discuss the positives and negatives of the nation’s human rights record.

"We will present things as they are. No more, no less,” Marty said yesterday.

Marty said the report would cover the “significant developments that Indonesia has made and progress in promoting and protecting human rights. At the same time, we will also talk about the challenges that we continue to deal with.”

The government was ready to discuss continued threats to religious minorities across the nation with representatives of the UNHRC in Geneva, he added.

"Recent incidents have obviously attracted international attention. Issues of the country’s interfaith tolerance have become of great importance in Indonesia’s diplomacy in bilateral and multilateral forums,” Marty said.

He added that Indonesia would be judged by the international community by its success in dealing with the threats to religious freedom.

"We must really resolve these incidents, otherwise the international community will get the wrong picture about Indonesia. We will not let certain groups define what Indonesia really is,” Marty said.

On criticism that the report would not be comprehensive, Marty said it was impossible for the government to meet everyone’s expectations in the 24-page report.

"There are still many challenges that we will encounter. But we must acknowledge that (over) 230 million Indonesians currently live in a democratic setting, which shows that the consolidation and promotion of democracy has become very important,“ Marty said.

The Human Rights Working Group previously claimed that the government had attempted to mislead the international community on the nation’s human rights situation, particularly on its protection of religious freedom, by compiling what it termed was a “normative” report.

In the report to the UNHRC, the government cited the 1965 Law on Prevention of Blasphemy and Abuse of Religion and a 2008 joint ministerial decree on Ahmadiyah as evidence that it has protected members of the minority Muslim sect.

The government also cited a 2006 joint ministerial regulation on houses of worships as evidence that it has been promoting religious harmony.

Contacted separately, National Commission on Human Rights chairman Ifdhal Kasim said that the commission would back the UNHRC’s recommendation that the 2006 regulation be revoked as it had been used to legitimise the closure of churches nationwide.

"We will instead promote a bill to guarantee religious freedom in the country, and we hope that this will be in the UN’s recommendations later,” Ifdhal said.

The HRWG also expressed optimism that the UNHRC would recommend that the government review of similar regulations, including the joint decree on Ahmadiyah.

Dede Utomo of the Gaya Nusantara, the founder of the nation’s first gay rights movement, said that he expected that the UNHRC would recommend that the government expressly guarantee the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.

"We hope that we can assemble freely to discuss issues relevant to us. We also hope that the police will no longer use violence when dealing with us,” he said.

Claims made by the Indonesian government in its report to UNHRC

1. The government regularly conducts human rights education and training for trainers, facilitators, civil servants and teachers.

2. The government has accomplished and will continue to arrange human rights education and training for members of the police and the military.

3. The government has signed the Convention on Enforced Disappearances in September 2010 in New York.

4. The government has taken various steps to combat impunity, citing the establishment of Law on Judicial Power as an example. The law transfers the administration and jurisdiction of military courts from the TNI to the Supreme Court. There are 23 military courts across Indonesia.

5. Efforts are being made to promote religious freedom nationwide, including the establishment of the Religious Harmony Forum as well as the issuance of various rules and regulations such as Law No. 1/PNPS/1965, the 2008 Joint Ministerial Decree on Ahmadiyah, and the 2006 Joint Ministerial Regulations on the Religious Harmony Forum and on Building Places of Worship. 

The government further asserts that the initiative to formulate a bill on religious harmony, which has been publicly debated, will further enhance religious harmony.


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