Indonesian Government UPR Report: Contrary to Field Reality

Indonesia has passed periodic monitoring of the promotion of Human Rights (HAM) in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, yesterday, 9 November 2022. Civil Society Coalition for Reporting on UPR consisting of: Amnesty International Indonesia, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, KontraS , KIKA, the Indonesian FreeToBeMe (FTBM) Coalition, SAFEnet, Transmen Indonesia held an agenda to watch the session live together to monitor the report of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PemRI) in the session.

In the 4th round of the UPR session, the Indonesian Government reported on Indonesia’s achievements in fulfilling human rights, including the success in passing the Omnibus Law on the Job Creation Law, passing the Sexual Violence Crime Act (TP-KS), infrastructure development and increasing the budget for autonomy. areas in Papua, as well as the successful handling of COVID-19. However, the coalition considers that what is conveyed by the Indonesian Government is in contrast to the actual situation, which has also been reported by Indonesian civil society through an alternative report sent in March 2022.

Regarding the issue of Business and Human Rights as well as its relation to environmental justice and development, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia mentions the Omnibus Law of the Job Creation Law as an achievement in stabilizing business by paying attention to human rights and the environment. In addition, the government acknowledged that it had followed the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights and was a pioneer in holding meetings related to BHR issues. In fact, KontraS noted that Indonesia still often ignores the standards in the UNGP. In carrying out development, Indonesia does not heed the interests of the people affected by development, often intimidating local residents and damaging the surrounding environment.

Regarding human rights defenders and freedom of expression, the Indonesian Government responds that Indonesia always cooperates with human rights defenders, civil society organizations, journalists, and other civil elements in the context of protecting human rights. However, Fatia Maulidiyanti, Coordinator of KontraS stated, “Human rights defenders in Indonesia face various attacks, in which they or their families are followed, monitored, subjected to criminal charges, and public defamation”. So KontraS emphasizes that there must be comprehensive protection of human rights defenders and freedom of expression in law.

On the issue of impunity, the Indonesian Government emphasizes the provision of reparations for victims and that non-judicial mechanism are complementary to judicial mechanisms. In addition, the Indonesian Government responded that it would properly investigate past gross human rights violations. However, KontraS in its alternative report considers that the government often seeks peace by providing monetary assistance without an effective judicial process and reparations through the Presidential Working Unit for Handling Incidents of Serious Human Rights Violations and the Integrated Team for Handling Alleged Human Rights Violations.

Regarding the issue of torture, the Indonesian Government emphasized the existence of security training and efforts to adopt the OP-CAT which has not yet been ratified. Unfortunately, until now several community groups are still the targets of acts of torture. The absence of OP-CAT ratification is also a domino effect of the ongoing acts of torture in Indonesia. Indonesia has also not drafted and implemented a specific law on torture and ill-treatment. “There is also a need for comprehensive police reform as the dominant actor in the practice of torture,” said Fatia.

The Indonesian Government also received many notes and recommendations to immediately abolish the death penalty and a moratorium on the death penalty through ratifying the 2nd ICCPR optional protocol on the Abolition of the Death Penalty. However, the Indonesian Government responded that the death penalty will remain one of the side sentences in the RKUHP by considering the applicable human rights standards and still giving death convicts the possibility of commuting. “The rampant practice of unfair trials in law enforcement and the war against narcotics agenda exacerbates the legitimacy of the practice of the death penalty in Indonesia,” said Charlie Albajili, Head of Advocacy at LBH Jakarta.

Nurina Savitri, campaign manager for Amnesty International Indonesia, criticized the Indonesian government for not providing complete information on the human rights situation in Indonesia during the UPR session. One example is the claim that the Indonesian government is improving its legal instruments through the RKUHP, which in fact contains problematic articles that have the potential to violate human rights.

“The article on defamation, the article on insulting the President and the Vice President, the article on insulting the government, the article on treason, these are articles that have been used to silence those who are critical of state policies, to repress those who have different political views. And those articles are preserved in the latest draft of the RKUHP. Whereas these rights are guaranteed in international legal instruments ratified by Indonesia in the form of laws, “explained Nurina.

Claims regarding the involvement of civil society also do not reflect the actual situation regarding attacks experienced by human rights defenders in recent years. According to Amnesty’s records, during the 2019-2022 period, there were 328 cases of physical and digital attacks against civilians with 834 victims.

Regarding the issue of Papua and the human rights situation there, the Indonesian Government stated that most cases of violence in Papua have been investigated and the perpetrators have been punished. Still, in reality there are no cases involving security forces in Papua, including extrajudicial killings. which had previously been successfully investigated and tried in an independent court.

“In the report, the government only conveys the situation in Papua from the perspective of infrastructure development and welfare, even though at the same time violence continues. Of course, it is unfair to answer all this violence only with the jargon of infrastructure development,” said Nurina.

 In addition, the Coalition also highlighted the repeated violations of Papuans’ right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and the government’s tendency to strengthen its security approach in Papua.

 “The Indonesian government states that the international world must be able to distinguish between human rights issues in Papua and law enforcement actions. The question is, has the Indonesian government been able to tell the difference?”  said Nurina, “Extrajudicial killings, and silencing expressions against Papuan civil society are not law enforcement actions, they are clearly human rights violations.”

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, the FTBM Coalition and Transmen Indonesia highlighted issues regarding human rights related to sexual orientation, gender identity & expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) which were not at all addressed by the Government in both the report and the response during the session. In a joint report with LGBTQIA+ organizations in Indonesia, it is noted that Indonesia has not shown improvement in the fulfillment of LGBTQIA+ rights. On the contrary, massive and structured discrimination continues to occur and has led to violations of basic rights such as the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to a decent life as well as freedom and security. The rise of discriminatory local bylaws such as the Regulation on the Prevention and Control of Sexual Deviant Behavior (P4S) 2021 in Bogor City, and the year before the enaction of the similar bylaws in Cianjur Regency is evidence of structured restrictions on the human rights of LGBTQIA+ groups.

During the session, the Government was silent on the remarks and recommendations that specifically mentioned the issue of human rights violations experienced by LGBTQIA+ groups. We noted that Indonesia received 3 questions in advance, 13 recommendations and 7 remarks from 17 states regarding eliminating discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people and fulfilling their rights. The recommendations came from Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Peru, Montenegro, Sweden, Australia and others, among others.

Lini Zurlia, Advocacy Officer at the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, deeply regrets the government’s silence regarding the issues. ‘It is certain that almost all remarks and recommendations submitted by the 107 countries participating in the session were responded to by the Government, except those relating to LGBTQIA+. This indicates that there is no recognition of the human rights of LGBTQIA+ people in Indonesia, let alone the intention to protect and fulfill,” Lini said.

SAFEnet in its report noted that digital rights in Indonesia are also being repressed. For example, the government used bandwidth restrictions and internet blackouts in Papua and West Papua in 2019. The ITE Law is also often used to silence the voices of civil society that are opposed to the regime. Throughout 2020-2021, there were at least 340 digital attacks against human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and other civil society. Cases of online gender-based violence against women during the Covid-19 pandemic increased to 510 cases in 2021, of which many of the targeted cases were women human rights defenders.

The Government does not mention about the digital repression experienced by civil society, including the people in Papua and West Papua and is committed to improving governance and protection mechanisms to ensure the right to a sense of security and freedom of expression. Although it was mentioned about the improvement of the revision of the Criminal Code, it was not explained what exactly is the improvement and protection for the people and human rights defenders in the criminal code which is said to be passed at the end of this year. Similarly, it is related to the obligation of the government to clarify what forms of protection for women in the digital sphere.

 Damar Juniarto, Executive Director of SAFEnet assessed that there was a stuttering of the Government in recognizing the importance of fulfilling citizens’ digital rights. “We regret that the protection from lawsuits and attacks experienced by human rights defenders and citizens, both physically and online, is not seen as part of improving human rights in Indonesia.”

 On the issue of academic freedom, which the Government has little response to in its report, KIKA highlighted pressure from the goverment and university actors who punish and silence free speech and academic expression. Academics are victims of criminalization, including under the ITE Law, simply because they express criticism towards the government, become an expert witnesses in court proceedings, and speak up about research findings in public spaces. Meanwhile, students who express criticism attain disciplinary action by the university for asking seemingly controversial questions and ideas.

 “We condemn the attacks on scholars and students and call on the international community to join forces with us in defending academic freedom in Indonesia,” said Dhia Al Uyun, Chairperson of KIKA, a lecturer at Universitas Brawijaya.


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