Indonesia: Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council 13th Session


Following a restive year, Indonesia's human rights record is one of the situations under review during the 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in May–June 2012.

Indonesia’s history is rife with human rights violations. The 32-year New Order regime was characterized by the violent suppression of dissent across the archipelago—an estimated 500,000 to one million civilians were killed and another million thought to be members of the opposition imprisoned without trial. Hundreds of thousands of civilians died as collateral in the quelling of armed rebellions in Aceh and Papua. Pro-democracy activists were disappeared and thousands lost their lives during the upheaval preceding the resignation of President Soeharto.

Indonesia underwent its first UPR process in 2008 during which it presented a broad National Action Plan on Human Rights. This ICTJ UPR submission examines the country's progress in implementing the plan and other transitional justice measures since then, focusing on Indonesia's stated commitment to combat impunity for past human rights violations.

Since the last review, Indonesia has put into place the National Action Plan and has signed onto, though not ratified, the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. An agency for the protection of victims and witnesses in legal proceedings was established in 2009, mandated to also provide psychological, social, and medical support to victims of human rights violations.

Despite these measures, however, progress in establishing accountability has been weak. Trials for serious crimes have experienced insurmountable delays, and of the 18 people convicted of crimes by human rights courts, all have been acquitted. An ad hoc court to try cases of forced disappearances recommended by parliament, as well as courts examining crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Papua and Aceh, have yet to be established. Truth and reconciliation mechanisms, proposed by numerous laws, have failed to garner the political support necessary for implementation. Vetting of security sector institutions remains stalled.

The submission provides recommendations for both the international community and the government of Indonesia to promote accountability. Alongside urging the Indonesian government to implement measures to prosecute serious crimes and establish truth seeking measures, the international community should restrict donor support to institutions involved in human rights violations and increase funding to programs designed to promote transparency and accountability within the government, judiciary, and security sector.

The government of Indonesia should address all impasses to serious crimes trials and the establishment of truth commissions and courts to examine cases of enforced disappearances and violations in Aceh and Papua. The current human rights action plan should be expanded to include provisions for redress, as well as measures to strengthen the independence and professionalism of the judiciary. In addition, the Indonesia should ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Read the full submission.