Universal Periodic Review


First session meeting highlights

9 April 2008 (morning)
For use of information media; not an official record

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Indonesia this morning, during which 43 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

Presenting the national report of Indonesia was REZLAN ISHAR JENIE, Director-General of Multilateral Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, who noted that Indonesia was a country of 222 million people scattered over 33 provinces, said that per its Law on Local Government representatives of government held consultations with all relevant stakeholders, including NGOs and national human rights institutions in relation to the current review. It was the view of Indonesia that the review should be replicated from the multilateral to the local level consistent with the State’s National Action Plan on Human Rights as guided by the principle of popular participation in a democratic environment. Responding to written questions posed beforehand, the Director-General said Indonesia had formulated a series of National Action Plans on Human Rights for successive period of five years during which concrete steps were implemented at the national level. Systematic and comprehensive implementation of the Indonesian National Action Plan on Human Rights was designed to help a culture of respect for human rights. Through a strengthened culture of respect for human rights throughout Indonesian society it was possible to create a conducive atmosphere in combating impunity. The Second National Action Plan on Human Rights had been strengthened by additional pillars. Chief among these were the establishment and enhancement of the institutions that were either directly responsible for or instrumental in the promotion and implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights. Since 2002, hundreds of local regulations had been revoked for infringing universal human rights values. Building up the capacity of local committees to establish a complaint procedure and to cope with the drafting of legislation was imperative if the committees were to function effectively in supporting the full implementation of the National Action Plan.

The Government was also in the process of boosting the capacity of the legal bureau of the local government throughout Indonesia to better guarantee the compliance of local regulations with the ratified human rights instruments, the Director-General added. To this end, the Government passed the Law on Lawmaking and concluded a draft Guidelines on the Harmonization of the Local By-Laws to be in conformity with the human rights standards. This achievement was followed by the strengthening of democratic processes in the 33 provinces in order to enhance the autonomy of the Indonesia regions through the direct election of governors, district heads and other local officials. Heads of local government and legal bureaus were consequently expected to play an important role between the local government and local human rights defenders. The Government intended to involve the participation of heads of local government legal bureaus and members of criminal investigation units of the national police in Indonesia’s national delegations to future regular meetings of the Council and it dialogues with treaty bodies. A wide array of Indonesia’s national human rights NGOs, national human rights institutions and human rights activists worked together in an alliance known as the National Alliance for the Revision of the Penal Code, which had actively contributed its expertise to the drafting of the Bill in compliance with human rights standards. In the area of criminal policy, the Penal Code had increased the minimum age from 8 to 12 years and had stipulated that the crime of torture was a human rights violation.

The Director-General noted that Indonesia was currently in the final stages of the establishment of a national institution for the protection of witnesses and victims in order to guarantee the effective investigation and prosecution of certain crimes. Indonesia was in the process of harmonizing its laws, administrative practices and polices, including bringing the Penal Code in to line with the principles of the ratified International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Many initiatives had also been introduced at the community level at the initiative of the prominent think-tank, which had a wide network all over Indonesia, including in the province of Nangroe Aceh Darussalam. National efforts to achieve full-fledged democracy in Indonesia were ongoing and will continue to be strengthened. In this regard, on 4 April 2008 Indonesia’s national parliament passed the Freedom of Public Information Law through which all State agencies and public institutions were obliged to disclose, among other things, their financial reports to the public. Under the new law, political parties, judicial bodies and international NGOs were expected to reveal information about their activities. Initiatives had also been taken on drafting a freedom of information Bill as led by a group of 30 NGOs and a number of individuals who established a Coalition for Freedom of Information in November 2000. The State was also undertaking to strengthen its efforts to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture by 2009.

During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included the State’s efforts to enhance human rights on the ground; the eradication of child labor and the protection of the rights of the child, in general; protecting the rights of women; combating poverty; efforts to combat terrorism; the respect of the rights of migrant workers; the State’s capacity-building measures in support of the programmes and projects; efforts to achieve religious freedom; combating trafficking in humans; and the establishment of the national commission on violence against women.

Questions posed by the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Council, and Observers participating in the interactive discussion, related to the enhancement of the role of national human rights institutions through civil society; the independence of the judiciary; measures to reinforce the independence and impartiality of the national commission on human rights; engagement with Special Procedures and how their recommendations have assisted in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country; steps taken in amending the State Constitution and the role of the Constitutional Court since its establishment in the promotion and protection of human rights; experiences in combating trafficking of persons; plans to raise the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in line with national laws and information on efforts to combat child pornography and prostitution; and detailed information on the State’s campaign to eradicate trafficking in children. Several speakers posed questions concerning the efforts of the State to promote and protect the rights of women and children and the progress made with respect of ratifying the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Other issues and questions raised dealt with intercultural and interfaith dialogue; measures adopted or planned to implement the decision to have 30% of women represented in political parties and electoral commissions, as set out by the Government; measures taken to safeguard freedom of expression and opinion; the results of steps taken to eradicate extreme poverty; unequal pay between men and women; ending impunity for human rights for human rights violators; how the crime of torture was addressed in the National Action Plan; plans to install a special contact persons for human rights defenders within the provincial government; the approach taken to address priority issues such as those which arose in the aftermath of the Tsunami; illiteracy rates; the human rights of individual in Papua; steps taken to ensure the protection of economic, social and cultural rights, in general; and combating discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.

Information was also sought on the State’s plans to include torture as a crime stipulated in the Penal Code; the exploitation of natural resources; juvenile courts; protection of human rights defenders; the intention of the State to sign and ratify the Convention on enforced and involuntary disappearances; steps taken to promote the independence of the judiciary; violations committed by security forced n Timor Leste and the outcome of investigations in that regard; plans to amend the defamation laws; the arrest and detention of peaceful activists; human rights violations committed against human rights defenders; human rights violations reportedly taking place in Papua; and allegations of serious overcrowding of prisons.

A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations, some of which addressed withdrawing reservations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the consideration of providing additional human rights training to security forces; taking additional steps to ensure that the rights of minorities protected, especially in respect of reported abuse on non-State actors; taking further measures to address the threats on Ahmadiyah families following a fatwa banning the Ahmadiyah; and to ratify the optional protocol to the Convention against Torture.

The delegation of Indonesia provided responses to a series of questions posed to it during the course of the discussion. With regard to the protection of women and children, the delegation said that in the fight against trafficking in women and children Indonesia had established a task force against trafficking and enhanced cooperation with countries in the region to combat this scourge. Legal assistance and shelters had been provided for victims of trafficking, in line with the National Action Plan. Concerning the national commission of human rights, it was noted that this body was an independent body, as stipulated in a law of 1999, and was an important partner with the Government towards the promotion and protection of human rights. The Government had benefited from the expertise of the Commission in many ways.

With regard to the Special Procedures, it was recalled that Indonesia had received 11 Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and it was the intention of the State to welcome other Special Procedures to visit the country. Concerning the situation in Papua, efforts had been taken to improve the welfare of those living on the island focused on the development of rural areas aimed at improving the quality of life of Papuans. Many human rights capacity-building projects had also been instituted. On migrant workers, it was noted that 2.5 million Indonesians were working overseas. The legal system had been strengthened with regard to the protection of all migrant workers and a special agency had been established under the president’s office which aimed to examine ways to protect foreign workers.

Responding to questions on Timor Leste, the delegation said the two nations now had excellent bilateral relations. Most of the outstanding issues of the past had been resolved. Emphasis was now on the closure of the chapter involving allegations of human rights violations in 1999. The Government was now expecting the results and findings of the Commission on Truth and Friendship. Responding to another question, the delegation said the law of 1999 upheld the respect for freedom of association and assembly. As to judicial independence, the Const stipulated that the judiciary had full independence without influence from other bodies. With regard to optional protocols, in 2008 and 2009 the State would ratify the optional protocol to the Convention against Torture and the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Members States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were the Philippines, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation, China, Germany, South Africa, Japan, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Cuba, France, Egypt and Slovenia,

Observer States participating in the discussion were Thailand, Belgium, Iran, Belarus, Singapore, Australia, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, Syria, Bhutan, the United States, the Sudan, Morocco, Turkey, Latvia, New Zealand, Palestine, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Sweden.

The 21-person delegation of Indonesia consisted of representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Police, the State Secretariat, the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, the Office of Papua Province, the Ministry for Women’s Empowerment, the Regional Parliament of Riau Islands Province, the Batam Municipaling, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Indonesia are Jordan, Canada and Djibouti.

In accordance with its institution-building package, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document. The reports on Indonesia can be found here.

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Indonesia on Friday, 11 April.

When the UPR Working Group continues its work this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. it will review the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Finland.

 Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.

To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp