Statement by the Indonesian Delegation at the 13TH Session of the HRC – Item 3: Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief and Report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

March 11, 2010 Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues

Mr. President,

I should firstly like to thank both Special Rapporteurs for their comprehensive reports and for the important contributions they have made within their respective mandates.

We align ourselves with the statement made by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC.

Mr. President,

As a pluralistic society, Indonesia knows too well that discrimination and violence in the name of religion or belief are one of underlying factors of the tensions, as pointed out by the conclusions of the report.

Permit me to share with you the latest development on the issue in Indonesia.

Throughout our 65-year history as an independent nation, Indonesia has faced a number of challenges in upholding and defending our principles of democracy and freedom of religion and belief.

This year, I believe the issue of religious freedom in Indonesia will once again be put to test following calls by concerned parties to revoke Law No.1/PNPS/1965 on the Prevention from Abuse and/or Defamation of Religion.

The Law, adopted in 1969 during the Sukarno era, has long been criticized as discriminatory in its acceptance of only six religions in Indonesia. It has also been branded as intrusive in the religious life of private citizens.

As Indonesia is a democratic country, governed by the rule of law, this revocation request is now under consideration in the Constitutional Courts.  Over the past three months, experts, religious community leaders and other witnesses have been called to provide opinions and recommendations on this issue.

The final verdict of the Constitutional Court on the issue is pending until completion of the judicial review.

We would again like to reiterate the Indonesian constitution guarantees and protects freedom of religion and belief.  The past, recent and future challenges relating to this issue will continue to be addressed in a democratic, inclusive manner with respect for human rights upheld at all times.

Allow me now to turn to the issue of human rights defenders.

I would like to extend my delegation’s warm welcome to you, Madam Sekaggya, on your assumption of this very important mandate.  Indonesia offers our full support to you and your work in advancing the work of human rights defenders worldwide.

Indonesia has been an evolving democracy for over ten years.  Over the past decade, Indonesia has rapidly become an increasingly open and vibrant society, with both the media and civil societies enjoying greater freedom of expression and opportunities for advocacy and defence of human rights.

Our government is working closely with all relevant stakeholders to strengthen a culture of cooperation and human rights awareness at all levels of society. We fully support the work of Indonesia’s human rights defenders and value them as important actors in our democratic society.

The visit to Indonesia by the SRSG on Human Right Defenders in 2007 provided clear evidence of our willingness to facilitate and strengthen the capacity of human right defenders. The visit also enabled us to demonstrate our commitment to upholding international standards and ensuring ongoing progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in Indonesia.

Following the visit by the SRSG, the Indonesian Government has been implementing the relevant recommendations in line with Indonesia’s human rights strategy and agenda.

In conclusion, Indonesia would like to reiterate its commitment to supporting the work of human rights defenders and looks forward to future cooperation with the special procedures.

Thank you.

Geneva, 11 March 2010