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Jakarta Post

Indonesia urged to be transparent on human rights record

  • Yohanna Ririhena

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, July 8, 2013   /  11:20 am

A human rights group coalition has urged the Indonesian government to be more open in reporting the country'€™s human rights situation when it presents a report in a United Nations'€™ session in Geneva later
this week.

The Indonesian government delegation is scheduled to present a report on the implementation of International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) during the Human Rights Committee session in Geneva, Switzerland on July 10 and 11.

It will be the first Indonesian report examined by the committee after eight years of Indonesian ratification of the ICCPR. The Indonesian House of Representatives ratified the ICCPR by enacting Law No. 12/2005 (UU no. 12/2005).

'€œWe hope the government will be more open about the human rights situation in the country after it ratified the covenant,'€ said executive director of the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) Rafendi Djamin over the weekend.

He noted that covering up the real facts of the human rights situation or refusing to acknowledge the truth would run against the spirit of the country as a state-party to the ICCPR.

Rafendi gave the example that there had been widespread torture and ill treatment against detainees, especially the poor and alleged terrorists.

In its report, the government said: '€œIt is important to emphasize that in a democracy where media is free and transparency is one of the essential elements, occurrences of any misconduct against detainees is always exposed to the public, including the way the relevant authorities address the incident. However, categorizing the incident of torture in detention facilities as widespread is an exaggeration.'€

HRWG UN program manager Ali Akbar Tanjung added that openness in presenting the report would be essential. Since the committee consisted of experts, their recommendation would be important for the government'€™s efforts to ensure human rights protection.

'€œIt differs with the UPR [Universal Periodic Review] when its recommendations could have political nuance, since the government'€™s report was reviewed by fellow member states,'€ Akbar said.

 HRWG, representing some 50 civil society groups across the country, has indicated that eight years after the ratification, human rights protection is still not getting better.

'€œIt would be difficult to not say that the human rights protection was not improving,'€ Rafendi added.

Therefore, civil society hoped the first committee session would be a test of government openness and consistency of its commitment on human rights protection, including rehabilitation and restitution for victims.

HRWG has submitted its report to the committee, underscoring several issues to be highlighted
in the upcoming recommendation: protection of religious minorities, women and LGBTI, the situation in Papua, torture of detainees, the death penalty and bylaws that contradict human rights principles and norms.

The Human Rights Committee is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the ICCPR by its state parties. All state parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must initially report one year after acceding to the covenant and then whenever the committee requests (usually every four years).

The committee meets in Geneva or New York and normally holds three sessions per year. It examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the state party in question in the form of '€œconcluding observations'€.

The committee'€™s 108th session will be held from July 8 to 26.

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