International Week of Enforced Disappearances 2022: 13 Activists Are Still Missing, 13 Years off DPR Recommendations being Ignored

The phrase “enforced disappearances” brings to mind a number of incidents of human rights violations that occurred during the Soeharto era. Enforced disappearances does not only occur in Indonesia, but also in countries with authoritarian leadership. The authoritarian leadership sees enforced disappearances as a systemic method to terrorize and intimidate the people so that they do not resist and endanger the government in power.

Along with the prosecution towards the state against those who disappeared, the movement “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” also grew as an effort to urge the State (Argentina) to solve the crime of enforced disappearance. The action succeeded in triggering regional and international groups to fight the practices of enforced disappearances.

The movement then led to the birth of the International Convention for the Protection of All Person from Enforced Disappearances (Convention Against Enforced Disappearances) which was later ratified on 20 December 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly, as well as Enforced Disappearance Week which is commemorated worldwide every last week in May.

Indonesia signed this Convention on 27 September 2010. However, the ongoing process often does not run smoothly. After 12 years of signing, this international document has not yet been ratified. Even though, this ratification is an attempt to fill the legal vacuum for the crime of enforced disappearance in Indonesia, because Indonesia does not have a law that regulates enforced disappearances outside of a systematic or widespread pattern, nor does it regulate excesses caused by this crime such as population status, rights of children who were forcibly removed victims rights to investigations, etc. so that enforced disappearances are still very probable to reoccur in Indonesia.

The long process to ratify the document resulted in the consequences of similar events that occurred in the span of the year of signing until now, not considered as enforced disappearances even though the elements have been met. On the other hand, the emergence of counterproductive measures, such as appointing human rights criminals from the military commander to the Ministerial level, worsen the situation to abolish impunity. In the momentum of this Week of Enforced Disappearances, KontraS together with the victims and their families urge a number of parties to:

  1. Commission I of the House of Representatives to soon discuss and ratify the Convention Against Enforced Disappearances with the executive government
  2. President Jokowi immediately established an ad hoc Human Rights Court for the 1997/1998 enforced disappearance case;
  3. General Attorney ST Burhanuddin immediately follow up the 1997/1998 enforced disappearance case to the level of investigation and prosecution;
  4. President Jokowi immediately establish a Commission for the Disappeared and ordered the search for 13 activists who are still missing.

Jakarta, May 23rd 2022

Worker Body of KontraS



Rivanlee Anandar

Deputy External Coordinator