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  29 Mar 2012

The Urgency of Indonesia to Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances

The issue of enforced disappearances has remained as one of the unresolved yet critical human rights issues faced by the Government of Indonesia for quite a long time. In the spirit of taking a step forward in finding the solution, on the 29th of March 2012, The Indonesian Coalition against Enforced Disappearances: Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared (IKOHI), Indonesian Law and Policy Study (PSHK), Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) held a Public Seminar on the Urgency of Indonesia to Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Attended by the Indonesian Minister of Law and Human Rights, Mr. Amir Syamsudin, and Agus Purwanto, Head of Sub Directorate of Regulation and Harmonization of Human Rights, Eva Kusuma Sundari Member of the Legal Committee of the Indonesian Parliament, Prof. Enny Soeprapto, Former Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, Member of the Coalition of the Experts to the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, Misiati Utomo, Mother of Petrus Bima Anugerah, Victim of Enforced Disappearance and Abduction in 1998, Mugiyanto, Survivor of Disappearance Case in 1998, Chairman of IKOHI and AFAD, and Muhammad Ansori, Directorate of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, MoFA as the speakers of the Seminar. Present in this Seminar were also the victims of the 1965 Tragedy, May 1998 Tragedy, Semanggi, Talangsari 1989, and Tanjung Priok 1984 Tragedy who are also in full support of the ratification of this convention.

The Seminar was also supported by the Ambassador of France for Indonesia, Mr. Bertrand Hortlory, and attended by various representatives of Jakarta-based embassies, including representatives from the French Embassy, Dutch Embassy, German Embassy, Spanish Embassy, Argentinean Embassy, the Tunisian Embassy, the Mexican Embassy, as countries that have ratified the Convention, as well as Asian countries who have ratified the Convention who are strongly encouraging Indonesia to ratify the convention soon, including the representatives from the  Japanese Embassy and the Ambassador of Iraq for Indonesia. Other delegations were also present such as the EU Delegation for Indonesia, Singaporean Embassy, British Embassy, Danish Embassy, and the US Embassy.

In his keynote speech, the Minister of Law and Human Rights expressed his view that the future ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances is in line with the Indonesian Human Rights Action Plan 2011-2014 and is regarded as one of the Government’s main priorities in the year 2013. He also explained that the Indonesian Government has already prepared the academic manuscript and legal draft for the ratification of this convention, and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the initiator institution has requested a permit of initiation to the President to discuss on the issue with the Parliament promptly.

All in all, the Minister showed a positive sign about ratifying the Convention, he also expressed his hopes that the Convention would act as a non-retroactive business and proof of the government’s attempt in fulfilling the rights of the victims and the family of victims.

Mugiyanto, a survivor of a Disappearance Case in 1998 and Chairman of IKOHI and AFAD however, laid another perspective on the table. Mugiyanto strongly urged the government to keep its promise in ratifying the Convention in 2012. As a representative of the Indonesian Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances, he pointed out the significance of involving the victims to actively ensure that the rights of the victims and their families are appropriately given.

During the dialogue, most of the speakers strongly demanded the continuation of the Parliament’s recommendation, which includes recommending the President to form an ad hoc human rights court, the Government to find the victims that are still missing as an attempt to disclosure the truth, the Government to fulfill the reparation rights to the victims and families of victims, and the importance of ratifying this convention to ensure no future replications to happen.

Including Mrs. Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Parliament’s Legal Committee, who firmly requested in her speech for the Parliament to not waste too much time and promptly discuss on the draft. Nevertheless, questions on the framework of ratification and the steps that must be taken by the Parliament remain unanswered, thus, Mrs. Eva together with the civil society organizations would like to stress upon the urgency of the ratification and post-ratification process of this Convention to be transparent and structural.

Although the majority of the ideas that were brought up were positive and optimistic in their manner, to ratify this convention in the near future, particularly in the year 2012, is seen as unfeasible due to the multitude of plans that Indonesia has in this year’s agenda, according to Muhammad Ansori, Directorate of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He explained that the status quo of the process of ratification has reached where the government has successfully created the draft of the bill as well as the academic transcript. However, until and only if the Government possess a stronger political will to proceed on to the next level, the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances will come to action.

For that reason, we, The Indonesian Coalition against Enforced Disappearances, hope that the Seminar on the Urgency of Indonesia to Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances does not only act as a reminder for the Government to perform a way forward after having signed the Convention in September 2010, but also as an evidence on how significant the role of civil societies play in upholding human rights in Indonesia together with the Government.

We strongly demand the Government of Indonesia to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances this year, conduct the four recommendations given by the Parliament as the implementation of the bill, and assure no future enforced disappearances can happen within the country.

“14 years…and finally came the time for us to meet with you, Mister Minister of Law and Human Rights. We fully hope that starting from today, our search for truth and justice will find its light, for we have waited for so long, for 14 years, awaiting for clarity on the state of our lost children.”

– Mrs. Misiati Utomo, Mother of Petrus Bima Anugerah, victim of disappearance and abduction case in 1998