Indonesia’s Human Rights Agenda: A Call to Action for the Newly Elected President and Vice President

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo arrives to attend the APEC Leaders' Dialogue with ABAC event during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok, Thailand, 18 November 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/POOL

As Indonesia gears up for its presidential election in February 2024, Amnesty International presents a crucial reminder of the country's ongoing human rights challenges and the government's shortcomings in upholding its legal obligations. Despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Indonesia continues to stifle peaceful expression and criticism.

The Electronic Information and Transactions (EIT) Law and the New Penal Code, among other problematic regulations, serve as tools to suppress dissent, hindering Indonesia's progress towards human rights protection. The failure to ensure accountability for human rights violations committed by security forces further underscores Indonesia's struggle to uphold fundamental rights.

Despite President Joko Widodo's promises of accountability, perpetrators of human rights violations, including crimes under international law, rarely face justice. Indonesia's commitment to providing access to justice and effective remedies for victims remains elusive. While President Widodo has acknowledged 12 instances of gross human rights violations between 1965 and 2003, concrete action to bring perpetrators to justice and provide reparations for victims is yet to materialize.

The United Nations has also voiced concerns about Indonesia's human rights record. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders expressed alarm when prominent human rights defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar faced criminal charges for criticizing a government mining project in Intan Jaya, Papua. In another instance, UN experts condemned the militarization and intimidation surrounding the Mandalika tourism development project in West Nusa Tenggara.

In light of these concerns, Amnesty International urges the newly elected president and vice president to make a public commitment to upholding the human rights of the Indonesian people in accordance with Indonesia's international human rights obligations and its constitution. This commitment should encompass the following human rights principles:

Respect, protect, promote, and fulfill the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

Ensure accountability for human rights violations committed by members of the security forces.

Provide and ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims of human rights violations.

By prioritizing these principles, the new administration can take a significant step towards creating a more just and equitable Indonesia, where human rights are not mere aspirations but lived realities.