Commemoration of International Day Against Enforced Disappearances: Ratify the Convention Against Enforced Disappearances, Find the Missing

On August 30, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly established the International Day against Enforced Disappearances to preserve collective memory and moral support for the bereaved families. This effort is a continuous act of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances adopted on December 18, 1992. Through this, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances was later finally adopted on December 20, 2006. This Convention aims to fill the global legal framework gap to prevent and resolve cases of enforced disappearances occurring in the future.

Enforced disappearance is a global problem that occurs in many countries where intense militarism and authoritarianism exist. In general, in the case of enforced disappearances, there are three sets of interrelated elements. Among them is the deprivation of liberty in the form of arrest, detention, or kidnapping, and others, of a person; deprivation of liberty either directly or indirectly carried out with the involvement of state authorities; and the existence of denial of the occurrence the deprivation of liberty.

Indonesia cannot be separated from the issue of enforced disappearances. In 1965/1966, there was a massacre in which hundreds of thousands of people estimated that disappeared. The same pattern occurred in Tanjung Priok 1984, Talangsari 1989, Mysterious Shooting, Military Emergency in Aceh, Wasior, Wamena, Abepura, East Timor’s human rights violations, one of which resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents (stolen children). In 1997-1998, there was also a massive attempt to kidnap pro-democracy activists, of which 13 activists are still missing. Later in November 2016, Ruth Rudangta Sitepu, an Indonesian citizen, was declared missing by Malaysian authorities.

Concerning cases where enforced disappearances occur, the State must prosecute the perpetrators, find the whereabouts of the missing victims, provide remedies for victims and their families, and ensure that the crime of enforced disappearances is not repeated in the future. This year, the only thing that has progressed and has been followed up by the Government is the plan to ratify the Convention Against Enforced Disappearances. In the Open Hearing to encourage the Ratification of the Convention (25/08/2021), which the Civilian Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances initiated, it is known that the ratification process is currently on the step of waiting for the President’s signature through the Minister of State Secretary. The hearing also states that the Government sets its target to ratify the Convention before Human Rights Day on December 10, 2021.


Therefore, we continue to urge for:

  1. The President to immediately establish an ad hoc human rights court, and to order the Attorney General to investigate the case files for Serious Human Rights Violations immediately;
  2. The President to establish a Commission with the order to search for missing victims for all cases where enforced disappearances occurred;
  3. The President to update the Presidential Decree 72/2011 on the Implementation of the Recommendation for the Final Report of the Commission of Truth and Friendship as an effort to find and recover kidnapped children (Stolen Children) who are still missing, which is also in line with efforts to establish a Commission to search for missing victims;
  4. The President and the House of Representatives to soon ratify the International Convention Against Enforced Disappearances this year.

Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances

The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), Amnesty International Indonesia, Ikatan Keluarga Orang Hilang (IKOHI), YLBHI, LBH-Jakarta, ELSAM, KontraS Federation, KontraS Surabaya, KontraS Sulawesi, KontraS Aceh, LBH-Bandung, Social Initiatives for Public Health, Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights Violations (SKP-HAM) Central Sulawesi and human rights activists.