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Indonesian NGOs urge the government to be ”open and honest” about torture

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A group of Indonesian NGOs have issued a press release to urge the government to eliminate torture practices among the authorities and strengthen laws against cruel, inhumane and degrading acts. The group also called upon the government to be ”open and honest” when discussing the reports on torture when the United Nations Committee Against Torture covenes on 06 May.

Press Release

Working Group for Advocacy Against Torture

”Torture is still a part of the practice of the authorities in Indonesia”

On 06 May, the United Nations Committee Against Torture will debate the country’s report on the implementation of the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in Indonesia. In its report, the government said that Indonesia had tried its best to implement the CAT. The Committee Against Torture will also debate the report from Komnas HAM and alternative NGOs.

In the Committee Against Torture session, we hope that the Indonesian government, through its Indonesia delegation, will be open and honest towards all kinds of situations of torture that have taken place, and be highly committed to eliminating all existing tortures.

An open and honest attitude is related to several important principles, among others:

Firstly, the committee meeting is a mechanism to improve the situation of human rights in a country. It is not only to improve the instruments of law but also to resolve cases. The Committee cannot make any improvements through related recommendations if there is no information that is true and honest and open from the government. Often, a government only provides reports or information about the good things and what it has done, not what has happened and the repercussions it faces.

Secondly, what is special in the mechanism of the Committee Against Torture included providing a good opportunity for Komnas HAM and NGOs to formally submit their reports and information to the committee.

In this context, the dishonesty and closed attitude of the government will be wasted and will only result in a bad evaluation towards the government. The Committee will obtain the information and report formally from Komnas HAM or the NGOs.

For this, we as Indonesian civil society organisations, state that practices of torture continue to happen a lot in Indonesia and is a systematic method used by the apparatus, not only in conflict areas like Aceh and Papua, but also in other provinces in Indonesia. Tortures are perpetrated by the police, military, intelligentsia, and authorities under the control of departments like the Forest Police, for example.

Torture practices and actions which are cruel, inhumane and degrading have been compiled as a shadow report to the Committee Against Torture with the hope of assisting in the improvement and abolishment of such torture practices in Indonesia.

Until this moment, the government has yet to approve legislations to prevent torture in Indonesia; it is proven that the definition of torture according to Article 1, Section 1 of the Convention Against Torture is not found yet in the KUHP and KUHPM, which are the basis to uphold the criminal laws in Indonesia. This resulted in many perpetrators escaping punishment and instead enjoying promotion to a higher level.

Either the ad-hoc Human Rights Court that was held in Indonesia to judge the East Timor case and Tanjung Priok, or the permanent Human Rights Court to judge the Abepura case; all of them absolve perpetrators of torture from any conviction. 

This is very ironic and reminds us that there was a crime and victims, but there were no perpetrators. Therefore, it is clear that impunity continues to persist in Indonesia and victims  are far from achieving justice.

Based on the issues, we, the civil society organisations who reject practices of torture, actions which are cruel, inhumane and degrading, urge the Indonesian Government to:

1. Implement the Convention Against Torture accordingly, including the declaration on Article 21 and 22 of the Convention, which recognises the authority of the Committee Against Torture to receive communications from countries participating in the Convention and individuals;

2. Harmonise Indonesian laws by including the definition of torture into  KUHP and KUHPM, and revoke all determinants of law that are against the Convention Against Torture which has been ratified by the government into UU No. 5 Year 1998;

3. Punish perpetrators of torture and disallow opportunities for promotion or rise in status to perpetrators;

4. Provide rights to torture victims;

5. Abolish cruel punishments, which are inhumane and degrading, among others, abolish the death penalty in Indonesia;

6. Ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture.

(Jakarta, 29 April, 2008) 

Rafendi Djamin (Coordinator, Indonesia-Human Rights Working Group)

Poengky Indarti (Direktur External, Imparsial)

Indri D (Coordinator, Working Group Against Torture)

Sry Suparyati (International Bureau, KontraS)