The country’s lackluster efforts to promote human rights are evident from minimum adjustments to national law following the ratification of international human rights instruments. Former commission chairman Marzuki Darusman said that even though the Indonesian government had ratified many international human rights conventions, it remained uncertain whether this would facilitate addressing cases of human rights violations.
“Amendments to the Constitution have promoted protection of human rights. However, it is still unclear whether the new articles on human rights are applicable or not,” Marzuki said.
He said Indonesia could learn from the United States, where human rights values were enshrined in the constitution, resulting in positive law enforcement to bring charges against perpetrators of rights abuses.
As of June of this year, Indonesia has ratified only five out of 15 international human rights conventions that it pledged to adopt between 1998 and 2009.
The ratified conventions include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights plus its two optional protocols.
Indonesia has not ratified the convention on the trade of children, child prostitution and pornography; the prevention and punishment of genocide crimes; the status of refugees and the protection of rights of migrant workers and their families. Other international instruments are the Rome statute on the international criminal court; the optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts; the optional protocol on the elimination of discrimination against women and the protocol on the status of refugees.
Ifdhal said violence and discrimination against minorities had been widespread as human rights standards had not been brought into harmony with existing laws and regulations.
“It was clear enough to see that there was unwillingness within the executive bodies, for example, to resolve cases of human rights violations or provide protection to followers of certain religions,” Ifdhal said.
The government recently issued a joint ministerial decree that bans followers of Ahmadiyah from propagating their faith, saying the Islamic sect was “deviant”.
Commercialization of education that gives opportunities only to the rich is also an obvious failure of government to comply with human rights principles, Ifdhal added.
Sociologist Daniel Sparringa said that after 10 years of reform, democracy had failed to truly embrace human rights because the focus had been shifted from the quality of discourse to the quantity of participation.
“This has caused the voice of the majority to replace the voice of humanity,” Daniel said. “When people are talking about human rights, they don’t focus on what are the values behind them. They just take it for granted”.