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COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CONSIDERS REPORT OF INDONESIA

1 May 2014

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Indonesia on how the country is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Presenting the report, Harkristuri Harkrisnowo, Deputy Minister and Director for Human Rights at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, said Indonesia was the largest archipelagic State with a heterogeneous population of more than 240 million people living across 17,508 islands.  It continuously aspired to be a strong nation based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.  Indonesia had undergone dramatic changes since it started its democratic transition 16 years ago, including the development of institutional frameworks promoting human rights, changes in mind-set and a decentralized system of Government.  Civil society flourished, contributing to the checks-and-balances mechanisms of democratic life, while press and online media enjoyed greater freedom.  Challenges faced included geographical constraints, as well as limited capacity to deliver policies and utilize resources.

During the interactive dialogue Committee Experts asked about endemic corruption; labour rights, particularly those of domestic, migrant and informal workers; gender equality in the workplace; and child labour.  The impact of mega development projects on human rights, especially the land rights of indigenous/traditional communities, and land-grabbing, was discussed.  Indonesia’s foreign debt burden was raised, as were its efforts to improve education and healthcare, including the maternal mortality rate, and reduce tobacco addiction.  Experts asked about cultural rights, including ways Indonesia was preserving the more than 1,000 local languages.  Efforts to tackle the practice of female genital mutilation, polygamy, and child and early marriage were also discussed. 
 
In concluding remarks, Ms. Harkrisnowo said  Indonesia was fully aware that many serious challenges needed to be addressed and that it was at a point of no-return.  The Deputy Minister highlighted the importance of cooperation and understanding with the vibrant and indispensable Indonesian civil society. 

In concluding remarks, Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Member acting as Country Rapporteur, said the Committee hoped to see progress by the next report of Indonesia’s implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, which as the fourth-largest populated State in the world with 6,000 inhabited islands had a very complex task.   

Zdislaw Kedzia, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, commended the delegation for the quality of its presentation and for its impressive representation, which was very enlightening to the Committee. 

The delegation of Indonesia included representatives of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Unit for Development Acceleration for Provinces of Papua and West Papua, Ministry of Development of Disadvantaged Regions, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Health, National Agency for Border Management, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Ministry of National Planning Development and the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva. 

The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m. on Friday, 2 May, to commence its review of the combined second to third periodic report of Monaco (E/C.12/MCO/2-3).

Report

The initial report of Indonesia can be seen here (E/C.12/IND/1).

Presentation of the Report

HARKRISTURI HARKRISNOWO, Deputy Minister and Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of Indonesia, said as the largest archipelagic State with a heterogeneous population of more than 240 million people living across 17,508 islands, Indonesia had continuously aspired to be a strong nation based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.  Since it started its democratic transition 16 years ago, Indonesia had undergone dramatic changes in almost all aspects.  Legislative and institutional frameworks that promoted a culture of respect for human rights had been developed.  Changes of mind-sets and paradigm regarding human rights promotion and protection had taken place for the better.  In 2000 a decentralization system was introduced, which provided greater autonomy for sub-national governments.  Civil society flourished and contributed to the checks-and-balances mechanisms within democratic life.  Press and online media enjoyed much greater freedom. 

Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 28 October 2005, Ms. Harkrisnowo said, and gave a brief oral update on important developments that had taken place since Indonesia submitted its initial report to the Committee in 2012.  Laws and regulations pertaining to economic, social and cultural rights that had been enacted included laws on a national health system, housing and settlements, assistance to the poor, trade, mass organization and horticulture.  Regulations on corporate, social and environmental responsibility, on health insurance subsidies, and on the inclusion of local languages in educational curriculums had also been adopted. 

Indonesia had ratified a further four human rights instruments: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers, and the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children and on children in armed conflict.  Indonesia recently underwent its Universal Periodic Review, in May 2012.  It had periodic reports reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in July 2012, and by the Human Rights Committee in July 2013.  Additionally Indonesia welcomed the mission of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing in May 2013, and had invited the Special Rapporteur on the right to health to visit. 

Indonesia’s current National Human Rights Action Plan, its third since 1998, provided a mechanism for public complaints concerning human rights.  Some 432 sub-national committees had been established all over the country to implement the action plan, through carrying out regular capacity-building programmes and training.  Nevertheless, progress did not always come easy, and the challenges included geographical constraints, as well as limited capacity to deliver policies and utilize resources.  Much had been achieved, but Indonesia recognized equally that much remained to be done towards the progressive realization of economic, social and cultural rights in Indonesia. 

Questions from Committee Experts

CHANDRASHEKHAR DASGUPTA, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Member acting as Country Rapporteur, said Indonesia was a very complicated country because of its legal structure and the nature of the Government.  It was also complicated because the Constitution was adopted in 1945; was it fully supported by an expanded system of legislative acts which covered all aspects of the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights?  Could the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights be directly applied in Indonesian courts, he asked.  Bearing in mind that some laws were adopted in the 1960s but others came in the twenty-first century, did national legislation cover all rights contained in the Covenant? 

Indonesia had many, many commissions established by Presidential Decree and other orders which had general and special competences and some had a lot of power, he noted, but asked if the commissions were adequately financed and whether some commissions – staffed by as many as 70 people – were over resourced.

A Committee Expert took the floor and asked about the national system of justice, as the Committee had heard reports that the system was unfair and did not meet the provisions of the Covenant.  Corruption was reportedly endemic in Indonesia and enjoyed impunity.  What was the State party doing to tackle the phenomenon.  Had anybody been charged with corruption, or had any court cases been taken up? 

Indonesia’s law on human rights did not cover all forms of discrimination, nor did it have a clear definition and prohibition of discrimination, and consequently did not provide sanctions for cases.  Could the delegation please confirm whether that was the case, and if so whether Indonesia would draft new anti-discrimination legislation, which included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights?

An Expert spoke about possible human rights violations by development projects.  The Committee had been advised that although there was great economic development in Indonesia it had overlapped human rights, such as land rights, and rights such as the principle of free and prior informed consent in projects affecting indigenous people were not always respected.  Could the delegation please comment? 

There did not appear to be any legislation on gender equality, although there was a gender equality strategy, an Expert said.  There were many discriminatory laws against women, including marriage laws, and the anti-pornographic law which dictated how women should dress.  Were such discriminatory pieces of legislation going to be eliminated, an Expert asked? 

An Expert said she was pleased to hear the delegation say how important civil society was in Indonesia’s checks and balances system, especially as the participation of non-governmental organizations and respect for their views was guaranteed within the United Nations Charter.  Furthermore, civil society’s inclusion in public life should not be a formulistic gesture but rather a sincere cooperation, she commented.

Indonesia was a large country which had made its mark on history; the Bandung Conference in 1955 which received national liberation movements as observers was the starting point of the Non-Aligned Movement, an Expert said.  Indonesia had also been a colonized country under Dutch colonialism, he recalled.  He then asked how much debt, or financial dependence, Indonesia owed.  In the report it was referred to as a “burden”, the Expert said, and asked whether it was a handicap on Indonesia’s development.  What mechanisms did Indonesia have to reduce its debt? 

Indonesia received international aid, including donor assistance from a number of countries and technical assistance.  Yet at the same time Indonesia provided technical and cooperative assistance to a number of developing countries.  Could the delegation speak about those two dimensions? 

Response from the Delegation

Regarding measures taken to eradicate corruption, a delegate spoke about impunity and said Indonesia was seeking to end the practice.  She noted that a former minister had been jailed, a chair of a political party had been sentenced by the court and other high officials had also been sanctioned by the justice system.

New national laws being implemented at the moment included one on the rights of persons with disabilities.  Indonesia had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and subsequently drafted a new national action plan to span a period of five years. 

A law was being drafted on gender equality and justice

Indonesia had a huge international debt in the last century, which was not always manageable and influenced the State’s capacity to fulfil its economic and social obligations to the public - US$264 billion, approximately US$120 billion of public debt and US$140 billion of private debt.  The reason for the huge debt was that in the old era every department was free to take out loans from the World Bank, and the World Bank decided to deal with the departments directly.  The mechanism to deal with foreign debt – the Ministry of Finance – decided that every year the debt must be decreased.  For example in 2013 the amount of debt was 34.2 per cent of the GDP, and it was planned to reduce that proportion to 21.8 per cent in 2014 and 18.7 per cent by 2016. 

At the same time, Indonesia was receiving foreign aid it was also providing technical assistance to other countries.  It relied heavily on technical and financial assistance, cooperation and trade with other countries, particularly developed countries.  It could not be forgotten that Indonesia was bound to its commitment within the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement and that South-South cooperation was one of its political pillars.  That made it possible for Indonesia to share its knowledge and successes with other countries, for example Indonesia received awards from the Food and Agricultural Organization because it had become self-sufficient in rice, and had expertise in agriculture.  Furthermore the Government had been successful in reducing population growth, and so received recognition from the United Nations Population Fund in family planning. 

Concerning the conflict between local and national laws on the provisions of the Covenant, a delegate first explained that Indonesia was a big country with 505 districts and 34 provinces, all of which formulated by-laws.  The Government used two major mechanisms to ensure that those by-laws were in harmony with national laws and the Covenant.  More than 50 laws were currently found to be discriminatory; they were going through a judicial review to harmonize them. 

A delegate spoke about persons with disabilities working in the public sector, and said there were 53 teachers with disabilities teaching in educational institutions. 

Questions from Committee Experts

Returning to the issue of corruption, an Expert spoke specifically about the relationship between the protection of human rights and the elimination of corruption, and noted that under the United Nations Convention against Corruption of 2003, many countries were setting up special commissions to deal with the issue. 

An Expert spoke about domestic workers, regretting the frequency of oral contracts and the general lack of employment and social protection of them, as well as their poor working conditions.  Did the State party plan to ratify International Labour Organization Convention 189?  Could it provide an update on the draft bill on domestic workers that had been going through the parliament for several years?  It seemed that domestic workers from Indonesia also faced difficulties working abroad.  Indonesia did indeed have bilateral agreements with some neighbouring countries, but not all of them. 

Migrant workers, who also included a huge number of domestic workers, was a related issue raised.  It seemed there were loopholes in Government control over agencies which exploited migrant workers. 

An Expert asked about social protection floors, including those recommended by the International Labour Organization.  She said there was a large number of unemployed people in Indonesia; had the State party envisioned having an unemployment benefit?   Were trade unions and collective labour organizations banned in all areas?  

Discrimination against women in the work place was discussed.  Did Indonesia have a law that decreed equal pay should be paid for equal work of equal value.  There was a very large gender pay gap, of around 26 per cent to as much as 40 per cent in the agricultural and fisheries sector. 

An Expert spoke about violence against women, which appeared to be a large-scale and widespread phenomenon in Indonesia.  Despite laws passed to combat violence against women, court decisions were quite lenient.  What impact did that leniency have; did the measures laid down in law have the effect of reducing the phenomenon?

The maternal mortality rate had increased, rather than decreased, in Indonesia.  What were the reasons for that, and what measures were being taken by the Government?  The practice of female genital mutilation was widespread in Indonesia.  What practical measures was the Government taking to tackle it, and perhaps criminalize the practice as well. 

Tobacco addiction was another problem, with a large proportion of the population abusing tobacco.  There had alarmingly been a three-fold increase in the number of women smokers between 2001 and 2011; tobacco use was a major cause of cervical cancer among the female population.  What steps was the Government taking to tackle tobacco use, was it planning to ban smoking in public places, and would it accede to the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control?  In 2010 only approximately 40 per cent of the population had access to clean drinking water and it looked like Indonesia would struggle to meet its Millennium Development Goal target on that; also with sanitation.  Regarding the latter, was Indonesia defining the sanitation target – as “adequate sanitation” – in a different way to the internationally used definition of “improved sanitation”?

An Expert expressed disappointment that housing was not one of the 10 priority areas of the Government.  Was there a national housing strategy?  He asked about reports of forcible evictions in west Jakarta, and in Papua, and referred to the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and her recommendation that the Government of Indonesia bring its legislation in line with international human rights laws and standards. 

Response from the Delegation

The delegation spoke about measures being taken to uphold the economic, social and cultural rights of the Masyarakat Hukum Adat (the traditional community) in Papua.  Recognition and protection of traditional entitlement to land by Masyarakat Hukum Adat was in principle guaranteed by the Constitution, which stipulated that “the State recognized and respected Masyarakat Hukum Adat along with their traditional customary rights as long as that remained in existence and in accordance with the societal development and the principles of the Unitary State of Indonesia and shall be regulated by law.”  The delegate referred to land rights, and compensation paid to traditional communities affected by the development of palm-oil plantations.  

The total population of Papua was approximately 3,225,000 million.  Today Papua had been developed from just nine regions into 42 regions and cities, located within two provinces (Papua and West Papua).  The standard of living of Papuans had dramatically improved from 1999 until 2013, with huge reductions in levels of poverty.  Poverty-reduction policies were centred on a welfare approach tied in with accelerated development.  The Government also took a social-political approach, a cultural approach and an economic approach, ensuring consultation with the Papuans in drafting policies for its “UP4B” programme.  Policies included reducing poverty through education, for instance by increasing the number of schools and teachers, and granting of scholarships for high school and tertiary-level education courses.  Improvements in the field of health  in Papua included building regional clinics as hubs for health programmes.  Infrastructure was being improved to reduce the isolation of some communities, along with the aim of building cooperation between cities in Papua. 

A delegate spoke about the culture of the Papuan people.  There were 280 ethnic groups and languages.  The population sizes of the ethnic groups varied between 1,000 to 10,000 and more.  Ethnic groups had different systems of kinship; they lived in the mountains or in coastal regions, and were spread throughout the country.  Since the granting of special autonomy in provinces of Papua those ethnic groups were represented in the regional parliament.  Members of the People’s Parliament of Papua were directly elected from and by the people of Papua.  Every ethnic community was represented, and women and religious leaders were included. 

A delegate explained that some forced evictions had taken place in West Papua, in order to construct a reservoir.  The land, which was owned by the regional Government, was being returned to its original purpose in order to combat flooding risk.  The land had been occupied by people who did not have permission or proof of ownership.  As part of its initiative the regional Government met the people concerned to explain its intentions so they could understand and agree with the development, although some people in the community did object.  He recalled that some 350 families were moved to low-rent apartments, while the rest returned to their regional hometowns or other places.  The land around the reservoir was currently functioning as a flood control, and being made into a recreational site.   

Since the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People was adopted in 2007, Indonesia understood that the rights of indigenous people was a legal construct.  The Government of Indonesia had been involved in the formulation of the United Nations declaration, and supported it.  However, since the colonial era the Government considered that all Indonesians were indigenous people, and therefore the Declaration was not applicable in the context of Indonesia.  However, that did not meant its provisions were not useful; the principle on prior and informed consent, for example, was relevant and taken into consideration. 

Corruption would weaken Indonesia’s capacity to fulfil its human rights obligations, a delegate affirmed.  The eradication of corruption would always be a priority for the Government of Indonesia.  A highly-powerful commission was responsible for anti-corruption programmes, and its work often made headlines in the national media.  More could be done in terms of structured cooperation between the corruption commission and the human rights commission, a delegate said, but added that there was already an understanding in the public discourse that corruption was a human rights violation. 

A delegate said in Indonesia’s opinion women in Indonesia did not face any discrimination in the work place.  It was strictly forbidden by law to, for example, terminate the employment contract of a female worker who was due to give birth, or who had a miscarriage.  Furthermore, female workers were entitled to two days off per month during their menstrual period, in addition to maternity leave, he added.  A delegate spoke about high-level and senior women in Indonesia, including the Head of Delegation today, who conducted their work very well and showed that gender equality in the workplace was progressive in Indonesia. 

Regarding the gender pay gap, a delegate said there was a guideline on equal remuneration.  For example, if a man and a woman worked in promoting sales, doing the same work with the same responsibilities, then they must receive the same wage.  The guideline on equal remuneration was also relevant to workers in other sectors, such as mining.  The labour inspector could adjudicate on work disputes. 

Concerning labour rights and in particular informal workers, a delegate began by speaking about the use of oral employment contracts.  Legal regulations set out that work agreements could be written or made orally.  For example, between fishermen and boat owners, an oral agreement was more appropriate on the value of a catch, on the hire of a fishing boat and so on. 

A draft bill regarding domestic workers was still under consideration, a delegate said.  An intensive discussion was now being held on matters including improving their working conditions.  It was clear that domestic workers were not slaves, but workers with rights.  The draft bill listed entitlements, including a minimum wage, a right to maximum working hours, the right to leave and other rights.  The Government was considering ratifying International Labour Organization Convention 189 on domestic workers; in fact upon its adoption the President made a statement in support of it.  The Government certainly saw that the contents of that Convention needed to be reflected in its draft national bill. 

Regarding the right of workers to strike, a delegate responded that the new law on man-power, formally known as the National Apparatus Law, regulated the rights and obligations of workers, as well as sanctions.  There was no single article in that law regulating the right to strike.  Around 4.5 million Indonesians worked as civil servants, spread across the islands. The workers had to uphold the honour of the State and the honour of the civil service, putting the State’s interest above their own personal and their group interests.  They also had to work honestly and keep some information confidential.  Civil servants were not allowed to work for an international agent – whether a company or a non-governmental organization – without Government permission.  They were not allowed to conduct activities with their colleagues outside of the national interest.  Workers were also forbidden to conduct any action that may be a hindrance to others or to an official duty.  Any breaches would receive sanctions.  Civil servants could receive awards for good work. 

Follow-Up Questions from the Experts

An Expert questioned the assertion by the delegation that there was no gender discrimination in the workplace or gender pay gap in Indonesia.  What the Committee meant by a gender pay gap was the difference between the calculation of the sum income of all women working in Indonesia divided by the number of women workers, as compared to the sum wages of all male workers in the Indonesian workplace divided by the total number of men.  Currently that gap stood at between 24 to 40 per cent. 

Article 7 of the Covenant did not just set out equal pay for equal work, but more than that: equal pay for equal work of equal value, the Expert explained.  Men and women might do different work – for example a truck driver compared to a nurse – but it could still be of comparable value.  The gap between work that was traditionally male and traditionally female had to be narrowed.  Furthermore, the gap between women who stayed at home child-rearing and looking after the home, without pay, compared to the wages of men who worked outside the home, also had to be narrowed, he said.   

There did not seem to be enough emphasis on protecting domestic workers from abuse, the humanitarian aspect, which needed equal treatment to protecting their financial rights, an Expert commented.  What protections were there for migrant workers?

Every developing country had a problem with child labour, an Expert said, acknowledging efforts made by Indonesia to combat it, and the problem of street children, which were two sides of the same coin.  How effective were those measures?

Response by the Delegation

Regarding migrant workers, a delegate said they had the opportunity to lodge complaints with the Ministry of Manpower in cooperation with the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Migrant Workers.  Any disputes would be managed by those bodies. 

A delegate said he did not mean to declare women suffered no discrimination in the workplace, but said all formal workplaces with ten or more employees had to follow Government regulations. 

On measures to reduce child labour, a delegate said that the Constitution and national legislation guaranteed protection for children against economic exploitation, including the worst forms of child labour.  There was a National Action Plan on Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour 2013 to 2022, and a National Action Plan against Trafficking in Children 2009 to 2014.  Regional Action Plans and community empowerment schemes were being implemented with the support of relevant stakeholders at the local level, as well as child labour reduction programmes to help child workers obtain an education or vocational training. 

Questions by the Experts

On the right to health, an Expert spoke about the new universal health programme launched earlier this year, described as a “significant breakthrough”.  In practice, however, the sudden influx of patients led to hospitals and health centres being overwhelmed.  Had there been any evaluation of the programme yet, and what was being done to solve the capacity problems? 

On maternal mortality, an Expert regretted that every hour three to four women died during pregnancy or childbirth; a significant increase on 2007 figures.  The causes appeared to be poor infrastructure and a shortage of health facilities and workers.  What was being done to make health services more accessible to pregnant women, especially Papuans and rural women?

Concerning land rights, an Expert asked why only 34 per cent of land parcels were legally titled in Indonesia.  The absence of a legal title allowed for malpractice and deprivation of owners of their land, going beyond ‘mega-projects’.  Did the Government have a plan to improve land tenure and legally protect the land rights of private persons? 

How did Indonesia ensure that the minimum age for marriage was observed?  The practice of polygamy, because of the vast territory, was also hard to control.  What mechanisms were there to protect women when polygamy was observed?  Indonesia did not appear to have any laws criminalizing marital rape, and in order to establish a case of rape the number of witnesses needed was disturbing.  Could the delegation comment on that?

Response by the Delegation

Regarding early marriage, a delegate said the minimum legal age of marriage for women in Indonesia was 16 years of age, and around 30 per cent of girls married at that age.  Some 11 per cent of girls married under 15 years – mostly in rural areas – but the majority – around 56 per cent – did not marry until they were 18 years of age or more.

Factors contributing to early marriage included the need of families to lessen their economic burden, and other socio-economic factors,  such as believing marriage would protect the honour of a girl so she did not have risky sexual relations.  The Government was trying to address the issue of early marriage through various measures, for example the Ministry of Health was running a campaign on the risks of early pregnancy and an early-marriage indicator had been issued by the Ministry for Social Affairs.  The Ministry of Education provided for 12 years of continued study in school, which was another way to prevent early marriage.  Young people were encouraged to delay marriage until at least 20 years for women and 25 years for men; they were encouraged to stay at school, receive training, and get a job first.

Polygamy was a sensitive question.  Under Indonesia’s imperfect 1974 law on marriage the principles of monogamy were upheld, a delegate explained.  However, polygamous marriages were an exception with strict legal requirements intended to protect the wives and children of such a marriage.  Furthermore, a 2012 law held that children born out of wedlock would have the same rights and legal status as children born within marriage.

Regarding proof of marital rape, a delegate spoke about the new law on domestic violence which overturned the stipulation that several witnesses of a rape were needed in order to make a complaint and to bring a case to court.  Instead, two types of evidence would be needed to prove marital rape: at least one witness and one type of evidence, such as a report from a medical doctor.  Rape was recognized as a crime and it had legal sanctions.

Efforts taken to reduce the maternal mortality rate were outlined, including the increase in health services.  More generally the Government sought to improve reproductive health education and counselling of future brides and grooms, and to train community and religious leaders to help them better support mothers-to-be before and after labour.  Midwives were being placed in villages, and better trained on what to do in cases of birth complications.  Neo-natal services in hospitals were also being improved, especially emergency facilities.

The Government strictly rejected and prohibited the practice of female genital mutilation, by Ministerial Regulation.  Socialization was also being conducted towards information dissemination to stakeholders to convince them not to conduct female genital mutilation and to educate them about the sexual rights of women. 

To decrease the rate of tobacco consumption in Indonesia, especially by women, several measures were being taken.  In 2014 a roadmap to control the impact of smoking was issued by the Ministry of Health.  Awareness-raising health campaigns existed to inform people of the dangers of smoking.  The Government was looking at acceding to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, but there had been challenges from the Ministry of Industry, and the discussions were ongoing.

Questions by Committee Experts

On the right to education, an Expert asked what was meant by free education and whether all expenses were paid?  He also enquired about school dropout rates, especially among girls. 

Did the constitution recognize the collective rights of the various ethnic groups in the country, an Expert asked, explaining that it was an important matter in terms of their self-identification, and especially in light of Indonesia’s support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Another Expert asked the delegation about Indonesia’s management of its rich cultural heritage, which included a diverse linguistic heritage.  Concerning cultural rights and given the complex demographic makeup of the State party, he asked if there was a framework law recognizing the various ethnic groups in the country.

An Expert turned to linguistic rights in Indonesia.  She pointed out that at least 10 local languages had become extinct and some 30 more were reported to be endangered.  What were the reasons, and what measures were being taken to reverse that trend, she asked.

Response by the Delegation

On the subject of education, a delegate spoke about human rights education which was being provided as a priority to relevant bodies, including the police force, child protection officers, other Government officials and the military.  A human rights curriculum had been added to their training curriculum.  For example, training had been given on handling public demonstrations with a rights-based approach. 

Public schooling from elementary to middle school level was free, nationally, including text books.  However, if a local Government wished to add costs it was difficult for the national Government to prevent them, a delegate explained.  The Minister of Education and Culture was spearheading a campaign to get students from poor families into secondary-level school and university.  For example, a Presidential Scholarship aimed at students who were poor and who had disabilities was recently launched. 

The level of school participation by girls was higher than boys at all levels, for example between the ages of seven to 12 years, girls’ school enrolment was 97.5 per cent higher than the boys.  A delegate noted that they would send the data on school drop-out rates to the Committee within 48 hours of the end of the review.

The preservation of local languages was ensured through Government decree, and since 2010 some local Governments had a policy in which they were obliged to use a local language for a full working day at least once a week, a delegate informed.  Every elementary school was obliged to include local languages in their new 2014 curriculum, which ensured that local languages were the medium of instruction from at least the first to fourth grade. 

The national census of 2010 included a question about local languages, and identified 1,300 ethnic codes and more than 1,000 languages in Indonesia.  Local governments sought to document local languages through research and interviews with the remaining native speakers.  In 2008, the Language Development Agency created a “Local Languages Map of Indonesia” to show the spread and use of local languages, and which languages were endangered, and analyse the reasons for that.  The Agency issued public guidance on using endangered languages, and importantly had so far published dictionaries for at least 71 local languages.  It hoped by 2015 to produce dictionaries for all the endangered local languages, such as the Kubu ethnic language.  Furthermore, there had been a revitalization of local activities to encourage people to speak in their local language.  The next census would be conducted in 2015, the delegate noted.  

Regarding the preservation of cultural locations, the Ministry for Social Affairs was establishing information centres in the Centres for Artefacts and working to preserve some 15,000 cultural heritage sites and 146 cultural conservation areas.  It also sought to revitalize 50 museums and provide cultural facilities to more than 2,400 schools.  The promotion and protection of cultural rights in Indonesia, a multi-ethnic and cultural nation, was regarded as crucial to preserve its national identity. 

Follow-Up Questions by Experts

Had there been an impact of corruption at the local level in the field of education?  The Committee had been told that 50 per cent of teachers in Papua reportedly did not report for work in schools, an Expert said.  Could the delegation comment?

Freedom of the internet was raised by another Expert, who referred to cases of sanctions and fines being applied to people who made complaints about the Government online.  An Expert also asked about the rights of migrant workers.  Reports that mentally ill people were restrained as a rule, country-wide, were raised by another Expert who asked the delegation to comment on the matter.

An Expert returned to the issue of land-grabbing in relation to mega-development projects.  The Committee believed that development and human rights were two sides of the same coin.  Sometimes there was a different perspective of what ‘prior and informed consent’ meant depending on who was looking at it.  The Expert spoke about the decision by the Ministry of Forests and asked how it would influence the practice of granting forests by concession.

Response by the Delegation

A delegate commented on Government actions to provide education in the provinces of Papua and West Papua.  The Government understood the concerns and agreed it was true that the standard of education in those regions was inadequate.  Measures taken to improve the quality of education, especially for age groups around nine years old, included the provision of more teachers.  In 2012, 400 teachers were additionally assigned to schools in Papua.  In 2013, of the 1,960 teachers needed there were only 900 teachers.  In response the regional government recruited more short-term contract teachers.  More widely, high-school graduates were being encouraged to go into teaching as a profession.  The number of illiterate people in Papua was huge, but the Government aimed to get more than 20,000 students into education by 2017. 

It was inaccurate that 50 per cent of teachers did not report for school in Papua, a delegate said.  He went on to speak about incentives for teachers and ways of encouraging them to work in certain regions. 

Regarding treatment for patients with mental health illnesses, and whether they were physically restrained, a delegate replied frankly that some 50,000 mentally ill people were thought to be restrained country wide.  The reason for that was a combination of factors, including the stigma of mental health, the lack of qualified medical staff and adequate treatment facilities.  Indonesia had far less than the World Health Organization recommended numbers of psychiatric doctors and nurses, and related qualified healthcare staff.  In 2011 a programme called ‘Free Physical Restraint’ was launched which helped more than 5,000 people be freed from being physically restrained.  Other measures taken to reduce the treatment gap included legislation on how mentally ill people should be cared for.  New medicine and treatments for mental health illnesses were being made available, while awareness-raising campaigns to sensitize the general population to mental health care were being carried out. 

Regarding freedom of expression on the internet, and a specific case of a patient in a hospital who wrote a complaint about the poor standard of her treatment on a social media website, and was consequently sanctioned and fined, the delegation said the individual appealed against her fine and won her appeal. 

Concerning the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2014, the Government recognized the usefulness of her report in identifying the gap between policies and actions, and found her recommendations very useful.  Her report was now being translated to allow stakeholders in Indonesia to study it. 

Concluding Remarks

HARKRISTURI HARKRISNOWO, Deputy Minister and Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of Indonesia, thanked the Committee for the valuable dialogue which helped the Government to take stock of progress made and identify areas in which it should move forward in the area of economic, social and cultural rights.  Indonesia was fully aware that many serious challenges needed to be addressed and that it was at a point of no-return.  The Deputy Minister highlighted the importance of cooperation with the vibrant and indispensable Indonesian civil society. 

CHANDRASHEKHAR DASGUPTA, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Member acting as Country Rapporteur, thanked the delegation for their open, honest and informative answers.  In its recommendations the Committee would seek to draw attention to the main issues upon which the State party needed to focus,  and hoped to see progress by the next report of Indonesia’s implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, which as the fourth-largest populated State in the world with 6,000 inhabited islands had a very complex task.   

ZDISLAW KEDZIA, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, commended the delegation for the quality of its presentation and for its impressive representation, which allowed the Committee to speak directly to various Ministries, departments and agencies, which was enlightening to the Committee.  He hoped the various Ministries would take forward with them the comments of Members of the Committee.  The Chairperson also invited members of the Permanent Mission of Indonesia in Geneva to a public briefing for States parties to be held at midday on 23 May 2014. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

ESC14/005E