Overview of the 108th Session of the Human Rights Committee
The Human Rights Committee examined the implementation of the ICCPR in Indonesia for the first time on the 10th and 11th
of June 2013. Amongst other issues discussed at length by the Human Rights Committee were the death penalty, freedom of
religion, and human rights abuses in Papua. The Indonesian delegation was comprised of 22 government officials and more
than 20 national NGO representatives attended the session.
The practice of the death penalty has been resumed following a four-year pause in executions. The Indonesian delegation informed the Committee that in
2007 the Constitutional Court of Indonesia reviewed Article 82(1)(a) of Law No. 22 of 1997 on the death penalty for drug
traffickers, to examine whether this law is compatible with the 1945 Constitution. The Constitutional Court decided that
the law is not contradictory to the 1945 Constitution and therefore the law still stands. Indonesia’s representative
affirmed that the prosecution of mentally ill persons is prohibited. Moreover, the death penalty cannot be imposed on an
individual for a crime committed under the age of 18, even if he or she is prosecuted after the age of 18. The Committee
responded to this by reminding the Indonesian delegation that, as demonstrated by many international conventions, drug
crimes alone are not sufficiently serious to justify the application of the death penalty.
The Committee displayed concern about Law 1, 1965, which refers to the defamation of religion and questioned whether it is compatible with Articles 18, 19 and 20 of the ICCPR. As a result of this law, detainees
have been charged with blasphemy and heresy. One Committee member in fact suggested that when a State makes law decrees
that target a religious minority, it encourages violence against that minority. Moreover, civil society reported that
the law places Sunni religion above other religions, even Shiite, which is discriminatory and contrary to Article 2 of
the Covenant. The Committee was particularly concerned about discrimination against the Ahmadiyah Muslim community,who suffer from religious persecution. According to several NGO reports, many of them have become internally displaced
and several of their Ahmadi mosques have been destroyed by mobs.
The Indonesian delegation argued that the Constitutional Court has not repealed Law 1, 1965 and pointed out that there
has been a joint decree by the office of ministerial affairs, which provides guidelines for religious harmony. Indonesia
further clarified that the fact that six religions are recognised by Law 1, does not mean that other religions cannot be
practiced in Indonesia. The Committee also raised the issue of the 1978 decree by the Home Affairs Ministry that
requires all Indonesians to indicate their religion on their identity cards and birth certificates, which can cause
hostility or hatred against one’s religion.
The Committee highlighted the lack of freedom of expression and existence of violence and intimidation against human
rights activists, journalists and political assassinations in Papua. It also referred to the lack of an effective mechanism to prosecute members of the military who use excessive force in
The Concluding Observations selected for the follow-up procedure, under which the State should provide information within one year, relate to: addressing the impasse between Komnas HAM
(National Human Rights Commission) and the Attorney General with regard to establishing a Court to investigate cases of
enforced disappearances committed between 1997 and 1998 (recommendation 8); reinstating the de facto moratorium on the
death penalty and considering abolishing the death penalty (recommendation 10); repealing the Regulation of the Minister
of Health No. 1636 of 2010, which authorises the performance of FGM by medical practitioners (Medicalization of FGM),
and enacting a law that prohibits any form of FGM (recommendation 12); and repealing Law No. 1 of 1965 on Defamation of
Religion (recommendation 25).