In the Pre-Session of Universal Periodic Review for Indonesia on August 31, 2022, held in Palais des Nations, Building E, Room XXI, Indonesian Civil Society Organizations presented the human rights situation for the last 4,5 years. A few organizations, such as KontraS, SAFEnet, Amnesty International Indonesia, SERUNI, and KIKA, conveyed the shadow reports that were drafted and submitted in March 2022 as a form of participation of civil society in reviewing the human rights situation in Indonesia.
Fatia Maulidiyanti, Coordinator of KontraS, stated that Indonesia still does not have a comprehensive regulation on the work of human rights defenders and how they can be protected. “Since the work of human rights defenders often involves criticism of government policies and actions, their work most of the time is justified as a threat; as documented by KontraS, there were 687 cases of violence against human rights defenders in the last five years,” she added. This violence became impunity due to the lack of resettlement of past gross human rights violations, one of which was the Paniai Tragedy, which killed four people and injured 21 others in Paniai, Papua. This year, the case will be brought to Human Rights Court. Yet, KontraS regrets that there are some irregularities, such as only one person charged for the tragedy, the lack of victims’ community participation, and the location of the court far from Papua. This will affect the victims and their families’ involvement in accessing justice.
Concerning freedom of expression, Amnesty International Indonesia, represented by Marguerite Afra, also presented the situation on press freedom. According to the last cycle of UPR, there was no significant improvement. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) recorded 43 attacks against journalists in 2021, including physical and digital attacks, threats, and imprisonment. Access to Papua and West Papua for journalists is also limited. Moreover, activists and human rights defenders in Papua and West Papua were often accused of treason under Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. “We demand the state to commit to fulfilling the human rights guaranteed by the national and international law. Furthermore, the Indonesian government always conveys its commitment to protecting human rights, and this commitment should be implemented with concrete actions,” Marguerite added.
Damar Juniarto as Executive Director of SAFEnet also highlighted Indonesia’s shrinking situation of freedom of expression. Despite the regulations that stipulate the guarantee of freedom of expression, and Indonesia has ratified the ICCPR, the violence against the freedom of expression was increasing, including based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE). Besides the criminalization under the Criminal Code, the EIT Law was also misused by the officials to repress the freedom of expression in the digital space. Not to mention the existence of several articles in the Criminal Code Bill that will potentially shrink the civic space with the articles of defamation, blasphemy, and insult against the president and authorities. SAFEnet was deeply concerned about the repression of Internet access in the form of website and app blocking and Internet Shutdown from 2019 until now, in particular in Papua and Papua Barat. Likewise, massive digital attacks targeted human rights defenders and those who have dissent opinions with the Government.
KIKA, represented by an academic from Gadjah Mada University, Herlambang Wiratraman, also revealed the pressure on scientists and the freedom in academic scope. The Academic Freedom Index – which measures the level of academic freedom in countries around the world – confirms that after reforms following the end of the Suharto regime in 1998, protection for academic freedom has declined. Besides the threats of the EIT Law that threatens the academics that criticize the government, there were also the political policies on campuses and the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) that shows dominant characteristics due to integration, namely bureaucratization, centralization, and control, compared to efforts to develop and strengthen research institutions, the scope of permissible research, and the space for international academic exchange.
Another issue was the injustice of development against women, presented by Chairwoman of SERUNI, Helda Khasmy. In her presentation, she mentioned that only 1% of the population controls 68% of the land in Indonesia. Moreover, women’s land ownership is stuck at 24% compared to men’s, even from the last cycle of UPR. About 10 million women are employed in large palm oil plantations, with at least 70% of the women workers contracted as temporary daily workers. They receive daily wages based on the number of hours they spent to work and usually receive lower wages than full-time employed workers. They experience poor working conditions, including inadequate safety equipment, precarious housing facilities, and health services. Menstrual and maternity leave remain unenforceable, experience gender-based violence, and are forced to do an unrealistic amount of work to earn minimum wage.
We also noted that the remarks from the Permanent Mission of Indonesia in Geneva believe that strong partnerships with CSOs remain key for progress in human rights. However, when the presentation started, the Permanent Mission left the room, while two staff stayed inside. This action was contradictory to the remarks stated in the room and quoted by the UPR Info as the event organizer.
With this Pre-Session being held, we highly hope that the recommending states will give related recommendations and ask questions to Indonesia in the upcoming session of UPR in November, in particular, the recommendations and questions related to the human rights situation happening now and necessary to be addressed in the UPR. On the other side, we also hope that this session will guide the Indonesian government to improve the performance of the human rights situation in Indonesia as a whole.
Geneva, August 31, 2022
Indonesian Civil Society Organizations