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Indonesia promises Unhcr more action on human rights

Publication Date : 21-09-2012


Following its move to reject some recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council (Unhcr), Indonesian made a face-saving gesture by offering to set up a long-awaited truth and reconciliation commission.

Speaking at the Unhcr's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland late on Wednesday, Representative of Indonesian Permanent Mission to Geneva Edi Yusuf said that the government was working to finalise the bill on a truth and reconciliation commission.

"This bill is designed to strengthen our national legal framework in dealing with past human rights abuses," Yusuf said.

In its response to the Unhcr, the Indonesian government also offered to set up a so-called "human rights-friendly district" and establish human rights guidelines for local administration ordinances.

"Other legal frameworks are in the pipeline. First, we are finalising a ministerial decree at Law and Human Rights Ministry on the introduction human rights-friendly districts. The other is a joint ministerial decree between the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Home Ministry on establishing human rights parameters in the formulations of bylaws," he said.

None of the three proposals directly addressed the Unhcr's 30-point recommendation issued following its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review in May.

The government decided to reject a recommendation from the rights body that urged Indonesia to repeal laws and regulations that curtailed religious freedom.

The Unhcr requested that Indonesia amend or revoke laws and regulations that banned religious freedom, including the 1965 Blasphemy Law, the 1969 and 2006 ministerial decrees on the construction of places of worship and the 2008 joint ministerial decree on Ahmadiyah.

In addition to rejecting recommendations on religious rights, the government also stated in its report to the Unhcr that it was unable to allow foreign journalists free access to Papua and West Papua, as proposed by the French delegation during the May meeting.

The Indonesian government also refused to allow the United Nations special rapporteurs on indigenous people and minority groups to enter the country. The Foreign Ministry said the government had abided by the Constitution when drafting its response to the recommendations.

Earlier in his presentation, Yusuf said that the Indonesian government decided to reject the 30-point recommendation based on considerations that the actions it contained were mostly irrelevant to conditions on the ground.

"Some of the recommendations are also subject to further national debates for possible inclusion in the next human rights action plan," Yusuf said.

The government's refusal to adopt the 30 key recommendations has raised criticisms at home, with rights groups blasting the government for engaging in an unnecessary publicity campaign abroad while continuing to undermine human rights protection at home.

"We don't need more regulations to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights, but at the same time we also have law and regulations that have continued to be used as legal foundations to abuse the rights of the people," Poengky Indarti of watchdog group Imparsial told The Jakarta Post yesterday.

Indarti, however, applauded the plan for the truth and reconciliation commission, saying that it could bring justice to perpetrators of past human rights abuses, so long as its founding legislation did not provide amnesty for perpetrators of past violations.


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