Indonesia

Last updated: 19 April 2022

Update

Indonesian students carried out a nationwide protest on April 10, 2022 over the prospects of President Joko Widodo’s extension of his two-term limit and the rising cost of goods. Demonstrations took place in several parts of the country, including Jakarta, West Java, and South Sulawesi. The idea of a term extension for Jokowi, either by amending the Constitution or delaying the 2024 election, has fueled concern about a threat to Indonesia’s democratic reforms.

Since March 2022, several senior politicians and cabinet members have supported extending Jokowi’s tenure beyond the end of his second term in 2021, such as Coordinating Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia, and Economics Minister Airlangga Hartanto. The heads of three major parties in the ruling coalition – Golongan Karya, the Nation Awakening Party (PKB), and the National Mandate Party – have campaigned to delay the election. The large Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama has also backed the idea. Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo denied the reports about his extending his term.

Introduction

Civil society as an academic discourse is considerably new in Indonesia, but the concept of having organized groups that strive for social and/or political purposes has been well-recognized since colonial times as a part of the independence movement. The struggle for independence started with the establishment of organizations, based on regions, religions, and labor unions. The importance of such organizations continued after the nation’s declaration of independence on August 17, 1945.

From 1966 to 1998, however, civil society organizations (CSOs) were restricted by the authoritarian Suharto government. Freedom of association and freedom of expression were constrained by the regulatory framework. Law No. 8 of 1985 regarding Societal Organizations (in Indonesian: Organisasi Kemasyarakatan, often shortened as “Ormas” and often loosely translated as “Mass Organizations”) was set up by the Suharto administration to control civil society, together with other laws in a package known as the “Political Law Package of 1985.” The concept of “societal organization” introduced by this law was designed to create one organizational status for all types of interests – activity, profession, function or religion – so that it would be easier for the regime to control them. Given its background, the Law on Societal Organizations has strong controlling aspects. Based on the law, the government may dissolve a societal organization that conducts any activities that disturb security and order; receives donations from foreign institutions without the Government’s consent; or provides assistance to foreign institutions that may “harm the nation.” Furthermore, extra-legal measures, such as kidnappings and torture, targeting those who actively challenged the government put CSOs at great risk. [1] Few CSOs were active during that period.

The situation changed significantly after Suharto stepped down in May 1998. The freedoms of association and expression are now better protected. As Indonesia underwent constitutional amendment in 1999-2002, a set of human rights provisions mirroring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inserted in the second amendment in August 2000. Further, on October 28, 2005, Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides clear protection of fundamental freedoms. Since 1998, many important reforms have been introduced and supported by civil society, including the constitutional amendment of 1999-2002 and the ratification of ICCPR. After 1998, CSOs have also entered another phase in their relationship with the state. Beyond the ‘traditional’ way of being in opposition to the state, some CSOs work together with certain state institutions, such as the Supreme Court and the police, in conducting institutional reform projects.

Apart from the legal basis regarding the freedom of association and the freedom of expression that provides space for CSO activities, the status of legal entities or organizational forms for CSOs are regulated in different laws. There are two types of organizational forms for CSOs, namely the Association (Perkumpulan), which is membership-based, and the Foundation (Yayasan), which is not membership-based.

In 2013, Law No. 17 of 2013 on Societal Organizations (Organisasi Kemasyarakatan), known as the “Ormas Law,” replaced Law No. 8 of 1985 on Societal Organizations. Law No. 17 was enacted on July 22, 2013 and is intended to reinforce the role of the Ministry of Home Affairs to control CSOs, as this role was weakening after 1998. The Ormas Law regulates “all organizations founded and formed by the society voluntarily on the basis of shared aspiration, will, needs, interest, activity and purposes in order to participate in the development with the intention to achieve the objective of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia based on the Pancasila” (Article 1). Both Foundations and Associations fall under the category of “societal organizations with legal entity status,” while all other CSOs are categorized as societal organizations without legal entity status.” The Ormas Law then stipulates a set of obligations and prohibitions for societal organizations, such as prohibition from propagating an ideology that conflicts with state principles (Pancasila) and from conducting activities that disrupt public order and well-being. Violations of such provisions might lead to the dissolution of the CSO. Furthermore, this Law provides discriminatory and excessive bureaucratic controls over international CSOs.

Two petitions were made by CSOs to the Constitutional Court to review the law in the fall of 2013. Both cases were decided on December 23, 2014. The Court ruled that the law is not too excessive in nature in light of Article 28J of the Constitution.  However, some provisions in the Law would harm the principle of freedom of association. They include provisions regarding:

  • the goals of societal organizations;
  • the types of organizations according to the number of members and locations of the organizations and the registration procedures for such organizations;
  • the procedure to select personnel for organizational structures;
  • the rights and obligations of the members of organizations;
  • the government’s role to empower societal organizations; and
  • the prohibition on the use of the Indonesian flag and symbol for organizations’ flags and symbols. (For more information on the Court’s ruling, please see “National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector.”)

As some provisions were struck down, there are gaps in the law that the government still needs to address, such as which government institution will be responsible for registering societal organizations. The government has yet to address these gaps or issue any implementing regulations. Besides the Constitutional Court’s decision, another factor delaying the issuance of implementing regulations is the change of government in October 2014. The change in government led to some adjustments in the relevant ministries as well as the national development plan, which has had an impact on the government’s priorities.

In 2017, the government adopted the Perppu Ormas, a “Government Regulation in Lieu of Law” that amended the Ormas Law. The Perppu drastically simplifies the steps that the government must take to prohibit and dissolve CSOs. It eliminates the role of the court as a whole, both in approving or overseeing the dissolution process.

In recent years, Indonesia’s ranking on various human rights and rule of law indices has fallen. This is due to a lack of community participation in providing criticism and input to the administration of government, the 2013 Ormas Law and the 2017 Perppu Ormas, harassment and intimidation of minority groups, and the continuing criminalization of activists.

[1] Amnesty International, “Indonesia: Power and Impunity: Human Rights under the New Order“, 1 September 1994, ASA 21/017/1994.

Organizational Forms Associations Foundations Societal Organizations (without legal entity status)
Registration Body Ministry of Law and Human Rights Ministry of Law and Human Rights It is not clear which government body is responsible for registering societal organizations. Article 8 of Law No. 17 of 2013 on Societal Organizations, which specified the registration authorities based on the geographical level of an organization, was struck down by the Constitutional Court in December 2014. The government has not provided a Government Regulation on this matter.
Approximate Number 48,886 organizations registered at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. However, these numbers do not reflect the type of the organization. 48,886 organizations registered at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. However, these numbers do not reflect the type of the organization. 65,577 organizations registered at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Barriers to Entry Complex procedures for foreign organizations seeking to operate in Indonesia. Barriers to establishment of foreign foundations, including required “safe” partnership with local foundation. Barriers to establishment of foreign foundations, including an additional requirement to refrain from activities which “disrupt the stability and the unity” of Indonesia or “disrupt diplomatic ties.”
Also, excessive bureaucratic controls for foreign foundations, including requirements on residency and minimum assets allocated for the establishment of the organization (USD1 million for a foreign legal entity and USD100,000 for a foreign individual).
Barriers to Activities Insufficient legal and judicial protection for CSO human rights activists.
Establishment of GONGOs.
Insufficient legal and judicial protection for CSO human rights activists.
Establishment of GONGOs.
Insufficient legal and judicial protection for CSO human rights activists.
Establishment of GONGOs.
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy No legal barriers specifically against CSOs. Libel charges, however, have been brought against CSO activists. No legal barriers specifically against CSOs. Libel charges, however, have been brought against CSO activists. No legal barriers specifically against CSOs. Libel charges, however, have been brought against CSO activists.
Barriers to International Contact No legal barriers Foreign foundations must have “diplomatic relations” with” Indonesia. None.
Barriers to Resources Associations not permitted to engage in economic activities. Foundations permitted to engage in economic activities only through corporate subsidiary. Societal organizations permitted to engage in economic activities only through corporate subsidiary..
Barriers to Assembly Advance notification requirement, assemblies prohibited at government sites and transport stations, and excessive criminal penalties. Advance notification requirement, assemblies prohibited at government sites and transport stations, and excessive criminal penalties. Advance notification requirement, assemblies prohibited at government sites and transport stations, and excessive criminal penalties.
Population 275,122,131 (July 2021 est.)
Capital Jakarta
Type of Government Republic
Life Expectancy at Birth Male: 70.62 years;
Female: 75.12 years (2021 est.)
Literacy Rate Male: 97.3%
Female: 94% (2018)
Religious Groups Muslim 87.2%, Christian 7%, Roman Catholic 2.9%, Hindu 1.7%, other 0.9% (includes Buddhist and Confucian), unspecified 0.4% (2010 est.)
Ethnic Groups Javanese 40.1%, Sundanese 15.5%, Malay 3.7%, Batak 3.6%, Madurese 3%, Betawi 2.9%, Minangkabau 2.7%, Buginese 2.7%, Bantenese 2%, Banjarese 1.7%, Balinese 1.7%, Acehnese 1.4%, Dayak 1.4%, Sasak 1.3%, Chinese 1.2%, other 15% (2010 est.)
GDP per capita $11,400 (2020 est.)

Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2021.

Ranking Body Rank Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
UN Human Development Index 107 (2020) 1 – 182
World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 68 (2021) 1 – 138
Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index
99 (2021) 100 – 0
Transparency International Rank: 96
Score:38
(2021)
1 – 198
1 – 100
Freedom House: Freedom in the World Status: Partly Free
Political Rights: 30
Civil Liberties: 29 (2021)
Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 40
1 – 60

International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements Ratification* Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Yes 2006
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1) No
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Yes 2006
Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR) No
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Yes 1999
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Yes 1984
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW-OP) No 2000
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Yes 1990
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) Yes 2012
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Yes 2011

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

The prevailing Constitution of Indonesia is the 1945 Constitution, which was amended in 1999-2002. The second amendment to the 1945 Constitution guarantees the protection of fundamental human rights, including the freedom of association (Article 28), freedom of expression (Article 28E section (3)), and the right to information (Article 28F) These provisions read as follows:

Article 28. The freedom to associate and to assemble, to express written and oral opinions, etc., shall be regulated by law.

Article 28E.

  1. (1) Every person shall be free to choose and to practice the religion of his/her choice, to choose one’s education, to choose one’s employment, to choose one’s citizenship, and to choose one’s place of residence within the state territory, to leave it and to subsequently return to it.
  2. Every person shall have the right to the freedom to believe his/her faith (kepercayaan), and to express his/her views and thoughts, in accordance with his/her conscience.
  3. Every person shall have the right to the freedom to associate, to assemble and to express

Article 28F.

Every person shall have the right to communicate and to obtain information for the purpose of the development of his/herself and social environment, and shall have the right to seek, obtain, possess, store, process and convey information by employing all available types of channels.

National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector

Relevant national-level laws and regulations affecting civil society include:

[1] Article 1653 of Chapter 9 of the Third Book of the Civil Code is generally regarded as the source of Indonesia’s non-profit legal forms — the foundation and association.

Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives

1. The adoption of the draft amendments to the Criminal Code has not yet been announced as of early 2022. On February 2022, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights reported that public consultation regarding this draft has been conducted in 12 cities. A coalition of NGOs has raised concerns about some of the draft amendments, as they would violate free speech and freedom of association and discriminate against non-Muslims, non-Sunni Muslims, and local religious minorities, as well as women and LGBT people. For instance, Articles 304 to 309 expand the current Blasphemy Law and maintain the maximum five-year prison term. They would punish deviations from the central tenets of Indonesia’s six officially recognized religions – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. There are also problematic proposed provisions that criminalize insulting the president, vice-president, public authorities, or state institutions, as well as provisions on fake news and spreading or sharing news that may be uncertain, overblown, or incomplete that may cause public unrest.

2. In March 2015 Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) urged the government to revise laws governing freedom of assembly and speech in a bid to undercut supporters of the extremist group Islamic State (IS). The Inspector General, Arief Dharmawan, cited the 1998 Law on Free Speech and 2013 Law on Mass Organization as laws that should be revised. Specifically, he said, “We have stated that the mass organizations law must be revised and expanded because it only regulates the registered mass organizations… What about those unregistered groups, how do we regulate how they should be disbanded? We need a clear legal basis… Can you imagine if pro-IS people made a speech at a public event like the Car Free Day and then declared that the government were infidels and killing them should be justified?”

3. In February 2018, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo voided a regulation aimed at screening research projects that were deemed to have “negative impacts” on the country in an about-face that came only hours after he had defended the regulation. Issued on January 17, 2018, Home Ministry Regulation No. 3/2018 on the research information letter (SKP) allowed authorities to assess the “potential negative impacts” of a particular research project, a mechanism that resembled the Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) requirement for businesses that could harm the environment. The regulation obliged researchers – individuals or groups – to report their research results to the Home Ministry, replacing a 2014 regulation that only obliged researchers to report to local administration officials, which would then issue a research recommendation. Academics were not involved in drafting the regulation, nor had the Home Ministry disseminated the controversial regulation among academia. Despite that the regulation is reportedly voided, there was still some speculation among civil society about its status in March 2018 as well as concern about the way the regulation would chill research projects if it is indeed still pending.

Organizational Forms

There are two types of legal entities for CSOs, namely the association and foundation.
Foundations are regulated by Law No. 16 of 2001, as amended by Law No. 28 of 2004 (“Law on Foundation”). A foundation is defined as a non-membership legal entity, established based on the separation of assets, and intended as a vehicle for attaining certain purposes in the social, religious, or humanitarian fields.

Associations are governed by the Dutch Colonial Government inherited law that is still valid, namely Staatsblad 1870-64 (Dutch Colonial State Gazette) on Associations with Legal Person Status. There are two types of associations in Indonesia: (1) incorporated associations, which possess legal personality; and (2) ordinary associations, which do not. An important characteristic of an association that is distinct from a foundation is membership. An association is a member-based organization, whereas a foundation does not have members but is required by the Law on Foundations to have three organs: the Governing Board (Badan Pembina), Supervisory Board (Badan Pengawas), and Executive Board (Badan Pengurus).

Law No. 17 of 2013 on Societal Organizations provides that there are two types of CSOs, namely (1) the ones with legal entity, which consist of Foundations and Associations; and (2) societal organizations without legal entity status, which include any organizations set up by civil society. The registration status as a Societal Organization is obtained automatically by a Foundation or an Association when the legal entity status is granted by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, so that they are not required to undertake additional registration at the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, because of the status of Societal Organizations, Foundations and Associations now have an additional layer of operational guidelines and are subject to the close supervision of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Public Benefit Status

Both foundations and associations may be public-benefit organizations. Public benefit status, however, does not entail any tax or other benefits.

The Law on Foundations provides that “social” foundations might operate to benefit only their stakeholders, which would be inconsistent with public benefit status. The broad term of “social” in this definition might cause a problem in practice, because it is applicable to any not-for-profit activity. Consequently, there is no overall requirement that a foundation must provide public benefit, as opposed to serving only its stakeholders. It depends on the foundation’s statutory purposes.

Based on Staatsblad 1870-64, associations can be public benefit or mutual benefit organizations.

Public Participation

Laws and regulations affecting public participation include the following:

Citizens are generally aware of public participation mechanisms. For example, civil society actively brought public information lawsuits before the Public Information Commission as allowed under Law No. 14/2008 on the Disclosure of Public Information. However, the government often unilaterally categorizes “public agency” as exempt for reasons such as maintaining “national economic resilience.” The mechanism for public information requests has become increasingly futile as the Commission’s decisions were overturned when the related government institution appealed the decision to the Administrative Court. Such trends have made substantial public participation difficult.

The latest case of this kind was the BPJS (National Health Insurance Agency) audit report, which reportedly shows a huge deficit in the agency. The Ministry of Finance refused to disclose this report, claiming that it could affect “national economic resilience.” In a case brought by CSOs (Indonesia Corruption Watch, Lokataru Foundation, and others) to make this audit report public, the Public Information Commission decided that the audit report was public information under the Disclosure of Public Information Law. This decision, however, was overturned successfully in the Administrative Court, and then subsequently in the Higher Administrative Court and finally the Supreme Court.

Protections for Marginalized Groups

Laws only minimally protect and enhance the participation of marginalized groups or others facing discrimination in society. For example, the Indigenous Peoples Bill has been in discussion at the House of Representative (HoR) since 2013 and has repeatedly been included and removed from the HoR’s National Legislation Program (Program Legislasi Nasional, Prolegnas). The Sexual Violence Eradication Bill has also faced delays. Despite being included in the 2020 National Legislation Priority, it continues to languish in the HoR.

The rights of people with disabilities to participate are guaranteed by Law No. 8/2016 on Disabilities and Law No. 19/2011 on Ratification of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The rights of the elderly are discussed in Law No. 13/1998 on the Welfare of the Elderly, although the law focuses more on their welfare, not on their public participation. At the end of 2020, the government dissolved the National Commission of the Elderly through Presidential Decree No 12/2020 on the basis of effectiveness of government affairs to achieve the national development strategic plan. CSOs viewed the dissolution as further proof of diminishing elderly people representation in national development.

While some marginalized groups have received certain legal recognition, LGBTI people may still be viewed as having an illness, or even be considered as a threat to national security. During local and national election season, the repression of LGBTI people is also often used as a promotional tool to boost incumbent/challenger popularity.

Legal Restrictions

In November 2020, the government passed Law No. 11/2020 on Job Creation (the ‘Omnibus Job Creation Law’), which affected and replaced a number of existing laws. Some of the changes limit and restrict civic participation in terms of central-local government authority, environmental protection efforts, and others.

First, the Omnibus Job Creation Law re-centralizes the authority to the central government by revising Law No. 30/2014 Government Administration. Article 174 of the Omnibus Job Creation Law states that:

“With the enactment of this Law, the authority of the minister, head of institution, or Regional Government that has been stipulated in the law to implement or form laws and regulations must be interpreted as the implementation of the President’s authority.”

Article 175 para. (2) further eliminates one of the discretionary requirements under the Law on Government Administration, i.e. that such measures are “not contrary to laws and regulations”. In its Naskah Akademik (Academic Draft), the government claimed that the discretion exercised by the President becomes ineffective due to this requirement.

The Omnibus Job Creation Law also revises local government authority under the Law No. 26 of 2007 on Spatial Management (‘Law on Spatial Management’). The revised Article 10 states that “the authority of the Provincial Government is carried out in accordance with the norms, standards, procedures, and criteria set by the Central Government in the implementation of spatial planning”. Under the Law on Spatial Management, authority was given wholly to local governments without having to follow the Central Government’s standards, procedures, etc.

The Omnibus Job Creation Law also weakens and shrinks the involvement of civil society in environmental protection, especially with regards to the formulation and review of Environmental Impact Analysis (Analisis Manajemen Dampak Lingkungan, ‘AMDAL’). First, it narrows the interpretation of ‘communities’ involved in the AMDAL formulation process. The Omnibus Job Creation Law revises Article 25 (c) of Law No. 20/2009 on Protection and Management of the Environment (‘Law on PME’) by only allowing directly affected communities to give suggestions, inputs, and responses to the AMDAL formulation process. Previously, the Law on PME included ‘communities’ generally, allowing for broader participation of civil society.

Similarly, the Omnibus Job Creation Law also limits the categories of communities involved in the preparation of the AMDAL. The revised Article 26 (2) no longer recognizes the participation of environmentalists and other relevant communities in the AMDAL business/activity plan, since it strictly allows only the involvement of the ‘directly affected communities’.

Furthermore, the Omnibus Job Creation Law eliminates the AMDAL Assessment Commission, previously regulated under Articles 29-31 of the Law on PME. This essentially removes the objection mechanism of AMDAL issuance that has been used by civil society numerous times in environmental protection efforts.

Under the Law on PME, AMDAL is pertinent to businesses and activity permits, as the document is used as the basis to issue environmental feasibility decisions. However, the Omnibus Job Creation Law diminishes AMDAL’s importance, and consequently the role of civil society in environmental permits, as AMDAL is now only to be used as the basis of environmental feasibility tests of a business/activity.

In addition, the government declared Papua KKB (a Papuan independence armed group) a terrorist organization under the Law No. 5/2018 on Counterterrorism. This declaration threatens activists and peaceful efforts related to Papuans’ rights to self-determination and independence, as the Law criminalizes those who ‘spread words, attitudes or behavior, writing, or display with the aim of inciting a person or group of people to commit violence or threats of violence’. Any peaceful efforts with similar aims, i.e. the independence of Papua, could also be termed terrorist efforts, putting anyone who speaks about Papuan rights, especially concerning self-determination, at risk.

More specifically, Article 13A of the Law on Counter-terrorism states, in broad terms:

“Any person who has a relationship with a Terrorism organization and intentionally spreads words, attitudes or behavior, writing, or display with the aim of inciting a person or group of people to commit violence or threats of violence which can result in a criminal act of terrorism shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 5 (five) years.”

In November 2020, Chief of Papua Police (Kepala Polisi Daerah Papua, ‘Kapolda’) issued Maklumat Kapolda No. Mak/1/Xl/2020 (Chief of Police Notice), prohibiting Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan’s People Assembly, PPA) from taking actions that lead to acts of treason, separatism, those violating state security, or other actions that could lead to general crimes or other unlawful acts and social conflicts. It is important to note that the PPA is established, and its works are protected, by virtue of Law No. 21 of 2001 on Papua Special Autonomy. The Chief of Police Notice itself is substantially incorrect, as under the laws and regulations of Indonesia, such notice can only be issued for police internal matters and cannot legally bind third parties.

The Government’s move to advance the Omnibus Law on Job Creation by silencing civil society began in January 2020 when President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) ordered the Indonesian National Police and State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen nasional, BIN) to take a ‘communication approach’ to civil society organizations that oppose the Omnibus Law. In practice, this ‘communication approach’ is a form of government intimidation towards civil society, often comprised by members of the National Police and BIN in plainclothes apprehending students and public discussions regarding Omnibus Law before the wake of the pandemic.

Public participation during this time was also seen as a mere formality, with last minute invitations issued for worker unions and other stakeholders. At an event with Ministers and unions, Head of Metro Jaya Regional Police also reportedly stated that whoever disturbs national stability by criticizing or opposing the Omnibus Law would face the Police and BIN.

The Government has also been using Law No.6/2018 on Health Quarantine to restrict civil society participation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite refusing to implement a health quarantine as defined and mandated by the Law, authorities continue to use the provisions and articles in the Law to penalize alleged violators, including those who protest the government’s handling of the pandemic. Since 2020, this Law has been used to target and silence workers and students during the Omnibus Law protests, as well as university students who conducted peaceful protests demanding tuition fee reductions during the crisis. Other laws commonly used to threaten civil society are the Indonesian Criminal Code and the Law No. 4/1984 on Infectious Disease Outbreak.

Article 93 of Health Quarantine Law

Anyone who does not comply with the implementation of Health Quarantine and/or hinders

implementation of Public Health Quarantine causing a Public Emergency to be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 1 (one) year and/or a fine of a maximum of Rp. 100,000,000.00 (one hundred million rupiah).

Article 14 of Infectious Disease Outbreak Law

  • Whoever deliberately obstructs the implementation of the epidemic control as regulated in this Law, is threatened with a maximum imprisonment of 1 (one) year and/or a maximum fine of Rp. 1,000,000 (one million rupiah).
  • Whoever, due to negligence, hinders the implementation of epidemic control as regulated in this Law, is threatened with imprisonment for a maximum of 6 (six) months and/or a maximum fine of Rp. 500,000 (five hundred thousand rupiah)

Article 160 of the Indonesian Criminal Code

Any person who deliberately in writing incites in public to commit a punishable act, a violent action against the public authority or any other disobedience, either to a statutory provision or to an official order issued under a statutory provision, shall be punished by a maximum imprisonment of six years or a maximum fine of three hundred Rupiahs.

Article 216 of the Indonesian Criminal Code

Whoever deliberately disobeys orders or requests made according to law by officials who the task of supervising something, or by officials based on their duties, so also those who are given the power to investigate or examine criminal acts, thus Also whoever deliberately prevents, hinders or thwart actions to carry out the provisions of the law which committed by one of these officials, is punishable by imprisonment a maximum of four months and two weeks or a maximum fine of nine thousand rupiah.

Following rampant criminalization of pandemic critics throughout 2020, National Police Chief General Listyo Sigit formed a virtual police force, i.e. a task force that functions to “educate the public” on internet ethics. The virtual police purportedly work in accordance with the interpretation guidelines of Law No. 11/2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions (‘EIT Law’) directions from a team of legal experts who worked for the virtual police task force in identifying the target posts or accounts. The reprimand given by this task force through direct messages is aimed to ‘educate the public to be more ethical and cultured in the cyber world’.

Shortly after the virtual police force’s formation, two upload cases that were reprimanded and handled by the virtual police received considerable attention by the public as they were considered excessive and deviated from the purpose of their formation. The aforementioned cases relate to comments about public officials, i.e. Juliari Batubara (former Minister of Social Affairs, accused of COVID-19 food aid bribery and corruption) and Gibran Rakabuming (Mayor of Solo, eldest son of President Jokowi).  The case regarding Gibran Rakabuming for instance, met harsh criticism as the arrest was deemed to be exaggerated. On Instagram the suspect commented on content posted by @garudarevolution containing information about Gibran asking the semifinals and finals of the Menpora Cup to be held in Solo. He commented on the post with his personal account on Saturday, March 13, which reads “What does he know about football, [he] only knows about being inherited a position.” The police deemed that this comment could be categorized as a hoax, as Gibran Rakabuming was elected through an election, thus an arrest must be made against the suspect.

The @CCICpolri Instagram account further promoted the Badge Awards, awards promised to citizens who actively participate in reporting suspected criminal acts on social media. The police claim that this badge will be given to the citizens whose reported case reaches a court verdict.

In terms of the future outlook for civic space in Indonesia, there is:

  • Ongoing discussion in the House of Representative on the EIT Law revision expands the scope of hoax criminalization (Article 45C) by including prohibiting the spread of false information that causes trouble/chaos (‘keonaran’) in the community.
  • Ongoing discussion in the House of Representative on the new Indonesian Criminal Code Bill which severely restricts demonstrations, etc.
  • Discourse on the reactivation of Pam Swakarsa, a state-sponsored militia, by the National Police Chief. Pam Swakarsa had a dark history during the 1998 upheaval as a civilian unit assigned to attack student protesters in the streets. Potentially activated to ignite and/or perpetuate horizontal conflict in grassroots communities.

Climate, Environmental Advocacy, and SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation)

Attacks against climate or environmental advocacy usually involve tenurial/land conflict and SLAPPs have been filed against the directly affected and protesting communities. Local leaders have often been arrested by the authorities for protesting, or reported to the police by companies in conflict. A number of notable SLAPP cases in 2021 include:

Three leaders of the Modang Long Wai Dayak indigenous people in Long Bentuq Village, East Kutai Regency were forcibly picked up by the authorities on 27 February for holding a demonstration against the oil palm plantation concession of PT. Subur Abadi Wana Agung (PT. SAWA). This case is part of a decade-long conflict between PT SAWA and the Desa Long Betuq adat community. In 2005, PT SAWA entered Long Bentuq Village with a decree from the Regent of East Kutai which granted PT SAWA rights to 14,350 hectares of land. Long Bentuq people claimed that 4,000 hectares of land have been planted with oil palm without their consent. Despite trying to find a resolution, the community was still evicted in 2008.

Sagidin and Muhadin, two residents of Pakel, Licin, Banyuwangi were named suspects and charged under Articles 55 and 107 of Law 39/2014 on Plantations by the complainant Djohan Soegondo, owner of PT Bumi Sari. The Pakel residents took action to occupy part of their ancestral land, which was annexed by PT Bumi Sari. At least 800 families routinely held istighosah activities (mass prayer), recitations of Al-Quran, and discussions every night.

The residents of Wadas Village held a peaceful demonstration to block the road when the government planned to conduct a ‘socialisation’ of the andesite mining project in Wadas Village, Purworejo, Central Java for the government’s Bener Dam project. A group of mothers sat in rows blocking the roads, reciting prayers and shalawat, when dozens of armed police and army officers forced their way in, launching tear gas, and assaulting the residents. 11 residents and lawyers from Yogyakarta legal aid were reportedly arrested and 9 others were injured.

Disproportionate Impacts of Restrictions

Although the restrictions on public participation mentioned above never specifically target a particular segment of civil society, the implementation of the restrictions itself is unmistakably biased toward those in favor of the current regime. The restrictions in Article 93 of Health Quarantine Law, for instance, are almost always enforced against civil society groups like students and workers. The same goes for the controversial virtual police force initiative, which seems to only be pursuing common netizens, while never mentioning the actions of pro-government buzzers (the government’s social media propagandists, including bots, some public figures, and those paid to support the government), and their online sympathizers.

Barriers to Entry

Registration requirements

Societal Organizations stipulates a category of “societal organizations without legal entity status.” Although this might seem to provide more space for CSOs, this category is intended for the government to be able to control any type of CSO.

Law on Foundations and Staatsblad 1870-64 require registration in order for foundations and associations to obtain legal entity status. Registration here requires the deed of establishment to be in the form of a notarial deed and to be registered at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. If the registration is accepted by the Ministry, the deed of establishment will be published in the Supplemental to the State Gazette (Tambahan Berita Negara).

Any natural person (not including a minor) or a legal entity can found a foundation or association. The Law on Foundations provides that one person or more can found a foundation. There is no specific rule for associations, but Law No. 17 of 2013 regulates the societal organizations (which include associations) must be set up by minimum 3 persons, except for foundations. There are no minimum assets required to found a foundation or an association.

To register a foundation or an association, the notary must submit a request to the Director of General Administration of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights along with two copies of the Deed of Establishment with stamp duty, the foundation’s tax payer’s number (Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak or NPWP) and the foundation’s certificate of domicile.

According to the Law on Foundations, the Ministry must respond within 30 days after the request for registration of a foundation is received. In case a confirmation from a relevant ministry/ institution is needed, the Ministry must respond within 14 days after the confirmation is received or 30 days after the request for a confirmation is submitted. The Ministry may deny a registration request for a foundation in writing on the ground that the request is not according to relevant laws and regulations. An appeal of such denial is not regulated by the Law. By contrast, the registration of associations is not regulated in detail.

In addition to the general procedure above, the Ministry also issued a Minister of Law and Human Rights Regulation No. 5 of 2014 regarding Validation of Foundations to further elaborate the procedures and requirements for securing approvals for names of foundations and their validation by the Minister. According to this regulation, all applications for the establishment of foundations will be processed electronically via the Legal Entities Administration System (Sistem Administrasi Badan Hukum or “SABH”) under the Directorate General of Law Administration. This technical regulation, however, is intended for notaries authorized to submit applications for the validation of foundations to the Minister through SABH, and is not applicable when members of the general public wish to establish a foundation.

As for CSOs without legal entity status, Law No. 17 of 2013 stipulates that such CSOs can be established by a minimum of three persons. A Registration Certificate (Surat Keterangan Terdaftar) shall be provided by the government. However, there is no clear provision regarding which authority shall provide the registration certificate because Article 8, regarding the designated registration authority based on geographical level of organization, was struck down by the Constitutional Court (Case No. 82/2013, decided in December 2014). The government has not provided a Government Regulation on this matter.

Under Perppu Number 2/2017 amending the Ormas Law, once three Ministers decide that a CSO, NGO, association, or organization is a “threat to the government” or that it is “anti-Pancasila,” the organization is immediately dissolved. Only after it is dissolved can the organization challenge that decision in court. In contrast, the Ormas Law previously provided groups the ability to challenge a dissolution order in court before being dissolved.

Foreign Organizations

The Law on Foundations permits foreign citizens together with Indonesians or otherwise to establish a foundation under Indonesian law, and foreign foundations, i.e. foundations established under foreign laws, to operate in Indonesian territory, provided that the operation is in partnership with an Indonesian foundation and only in the areas of social, religion and humanity.

The Law on Foundations and relevant regulations outline a set of rules regarding foundations established by foreign individuals or entities. The Law mandates a minimum contribution to the foundation’s assets of 100 million IDR (USD 10,000). For registration, the minimum contribution must be documented, the foreign individual/entity must provide identification, and there must be a statement that the foundation will not be detrimental to the Indonesian society, nation and country. Activities must be undertaken in partnership with foundations established by Indonesian citizens/entities that have the same goal and purpose as the foreign foundation. Further, such partnership must be “safe” from a political, legal, technical and security perspective, terms which the Law does not define.

Foundations established by foreign individuals or entities must have a minimum of one Indonesian member on the executive board; that member must serve as the foundation’s chair, secretary or treasurer. In addition, all members of the executive board must be residents of Indonesia. Members of the executive board, governing board and supervisory board who are not Indonesian citizens must have work and temporary residence permits (KITAS or Kartu Izin Tinggal Sementara).

Law No. 17 of 2013 stipulates that foreign CSOs can only be set up as foundations, not associations or societal organizations without legal entity status. The Law has a special category of “societal organizations established by foreign citizens” (Chapter 13 of Law No. 17 of 2013; in this report, this category is referred to as ‘foreign CSOs’). There are three types of foreign CSOs, namely: (1) Foreign Foundations (foundations established in foreign countries), (2) Indonesian Foundations founded by foreign individuals, and (3) Indonesian Foundations founded by foreign legal entities (Article 43).

Foreign foundations are obliged to obtain Government permits, namely a principle permit and operational permit. An operational permit can only be obtained when the principle permit is granted. (Article 44) The principle permit is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs based on considerations of the Permit Issuance Team, which shall be established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To obtain a principle permit, the foreign foundation must fulfill minimum requirements: that it was established in a country that has diplomatic relations with Indonesia and that its governing principle, purposes and activities are not-for-profit. The permit is issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs or the local government according to the level of work of the foreign foundation only after the foreign foundation signs a written agreement with the Indonesian government regarding its scope of activities. The duration of the principle permit is three years and can be extended, while the duration of the operational permit cannot be more than the duration of the principle permit.

In addition to the regulations set forth in the Law on Foundations elaborated above, Law No. 17 of 2013 provides that Indonesian Foundations founded by foreign individuals and foreign legal entities may only be granted legal entity status by the Ministry of Law and Regulations after the Ministry obtained consideration from the Permit Issuance Team. Furthermore, Law No. 17 of 2013 states that a foreign individual founding an Indonesian foundation must have resided in Indonesia for five consecutive years and hold permanent residency (Izin Tinggal Tetap). The minimum amount of assets of the Indonesian foundation founded by foreign individuals is IDR 1 billion (USD 100,000). There are also other regulations for Indonesian foundations founded by foreign legal entities. The foreign legal entity must have operated in Indonesia for five consecutive years and the minimum amount of assets of the foundation is IDR 10 billion (USD 1 million) (Article 47). In their operations, Indonesian foundations founded by foreign individuals or foreign legal entities are obliged to have a partnership with the government and Indonesian CSOs. (Article 48).

Barriers to Operational Activity

The government does not have the right to interfere with the internal self-governance of a CSO. The Law on Foundations, however, stipulates that the organizational structure of a foundation must consist of three organs: the Governing Board (Badan Pembina), Supervisory Board (Badan Pengawas), and Executive Board (Badan Pengurus). Law No. 17 of 2013 on Societal Organizations does not provide detailed requirements on the organizational structure. It only regulates that the executive of societal organizations shall be selected based on consensus and deliberation and shall consist of minimum one chairperson, one secretary, and one treasurer. (article 29). The Law does not provide further on the different levels of organization.

The Law on Foundations requires every foundation to publish the abridged version of its annual report on an announcement board in its office. Furthermore, foundations that have received donations from the state, overseas parties, or third parties totaling 500 million Indonesian rupiah (IDR) or more, or that possess assets other than endowed assets of over 20 billion IDR, must be audited by a public accountant and have their annual report summaries published in an Indonesian-language daily newspaper. The Societal Organizations Law requires societal organizations collecting public funds to maintain financial reports according to standards of accountancy and publish them regularly (Article 38). With regard to geographical location to operate, Societal Organizations Law provides that CSOs may have organizational structure abroad and may operate in all parts of Indonesia according to relevant laws and regulations (Articles 26 and 27).

Under the Article 61 of the 2017 Perppu amending the Ormas Law, the Minister of Law and Human Rights only needs to issue one written warning to CSOs that are suspected of violating the rules. After seven working days, the Minister can immediately freeze the CSO’s activities. The new regulation also abolished the clarification of the Ormas Law for Article 61(2), which stated that internal activities are not included in activities that are frozen. In contrast, under the new regulation, internal meetings are illegal if the CSO’s activities have been frozen. If the CSO does not obey the order to dissolve its activities, the minister can revoke the legal status of the CSO. The new regulation does not include a provision for how the CSO can challenge this ruling or defend itself.

It is possible that a decree issued by the minister to prohibit or dissolve an organization can be challenged in the State Administrative Court (PTUN). However, the lawsuit can only cover whether the minister has followed the administrative requirements. It is still unclear whether the court will consider the government’s reason to label an organization as “anti-Pancasila”.

The new regulation also creates criminal penalties for members of CSOs. For example, Article 82A states that members who violate prohibitions directed at CSOs can also be convicted. Under this article, members or administrators of CSOs who commit “acts of hostility” or blasphemy can face lengthy prison sentences. Moreover, it is not clear from Article 82A of the Perppu whether an organization must be formally sanctioned under Articles 60, 61, 62, or 80A before its members are subject to criminal charges. In applying criminal penalties under Article 82A, there is also no clarity about who has the authority to determine whether an organization violates Article 59.

On the other hand, there are CSOs that are linked to local governments or ministries. They are usually called “red-license-plate CSOs” as government-owned cars in Indonesia have red license plates. As opposed to GONGOs (Government-Organized Non-Governmental Organization), these CSOs are not factually established and staffed by the government. However, they are allegedly facilitate control over government-funded projects in their works as well as to disseminate an opinion countering CSOs that criticize the government actions or policies.

The government has also been accused by CSOs of not providing adequate protection to CSO representatives in the face of threats and violence.  During the 2017 Universal Periodic Review, Indonesia accepted four recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders;

(1) Adopt legislative measures to prevent and combat intimidation, repression, or violence against human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society organizations;

(2) Continue to strengthen national and regional efforts to promote and protect human rights defenders;

(3) Facilitate the work of human rights defenders and journalists throughout the country; and

(4) Step up efforts to ensure the protection of journalists and human rights defenders.

Nonetheless, the protection of human rights defenders remains unimproved. According to Forum Asia data in 2019-2020, Indonesia ranked 5th out of 21 Asia countries with the highest number of cases of attacks against human rights defenders.

In 2021, Amnesty International Indonesia recorded at least 95 attacks against human rights defenders with a total of 297 victims that work in various sectors, including journalists, activists, indigenous peoples, and students. State actors, e.g., the police, military, central and regional government officials, were allegedly involved in 55 out 97 cases. This trend is similar to what happened in 2020, where 60 of 93 attacks against human rights defenders were allegedly committed by state actors.

Such attacks came in various forms, from a report to the police, threats, intimidation, and physical violence, to murder. In 2021, Amnesty International Indonesia also recorded 58 cases of digital attacks, in the form of doxing, hacking, and attempted hacking of accounts. Generally, the hacker targeted the victims’ messaging apps and social media accounts such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, and Instagram.

However, the National Human Rights Commission has taken steps to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders in Indonesia by issuing a guideline policy for sectoral policies entitled ‘Norms Standard and Setting No. 6 on Human Rights Defenders in 2021. It contains a practical description and implementation of various human rights instruments that serve as a guiding document for state administrators and other stakeholders to implement national and international human rights obligations. Despite not being authoritative, this document is still regarded as a development in the protection of human rights defenders.

Barriers to Speech / Advocacy

In general, Indonesian law does not hamper the ability of CSOs to criticize the Government or to advocate for politically unpopular causes. However, there is concern that the 2011 Intelligence Law contains several articles open to multiple interpretations, which CSOs claim violate and override the Law on Public Freedom of Information of 2008. For example, the Intelligence Law defines “intelligence secrets” as “information that could jeopardize national security,” but provides no further explanation about the definition of “national security.” This is problematic for journalists and CSO activists because the provision could be interpreted in a way which would criminalize the spreading of public interest information. Interestingly, the Constitutional Court, in November 2012, rejected a motion from a coalition of civil society groups to amend the 2011 Intelligence Law, saying that the law neither violated the Constitution nor threatened freedom of expression.

There is generally no limit on the ability of CSOs to engage in political or legislative activities. However, the government can use the penal code against CSOs as well as media outlets that strongly criticize the government. In 2009, three activists were suspected of libel due to statements they made in the media regarding corruption and human rights cases. [1]

There is also a growing concern about the use of the Law No. 11 of 2008 regarding Electronic Information and Transactions (EIT) as the basis for defamation. The Law actually provides a legal basis for internet-based commerce in Indonesia and codifies a number of internet-based offenses. However, it also contains a provision that criminalizes internet-based insults and defamation, with noticeably stronger penalties than those regulated in the Criminal Code. The Law provides a maximum punishment of 6 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rp.1 billion (approximately USD 100,000). Between 2008, when the Law was passed, and October 14, 2014, more than 70 people had been charged under the EIT, with 40 of those cases brought in 2014. For years, the EIT Law has been seen as a threat to freedom of expression.

Between April and June 2020, Amnesty International recorded 29 incidents in which students, academics, journalists, and activists were harassed and intimidated for criticizing the government or discussing politically sensitive issues such as human rights violations and abuses in Papua. The intimidation took many forms, including credential theft of their WhatsApp accounts, spam calls from unidentified international numbers, digital harassment such as intrusions during online discussions, particularly on the issue of Papua, and even direct, offline threats of physical violence. At the same time, arbitrary use of the 2008 Electronic Information and Transaction Law, the 1965 Blasphemy Law and the treason (makar) charges under article 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) remains one of the biggest threats to the right to freedom of expression in Indonesia. The digital attacks, harassment and intimidation contribute to the growing climate of fear in the country.

In 2021, two major cases related to the EIT Law involved reports made by government officials against four human rights defenders. The Presidential Chief of Staff, Moeldoko, reported Egi Primayogha and Miftachul Choir, researchers of Indonesia Corruption Watch, to police in September over ICW’s publication, following several subpoenas sent in August 2021. The study uncovered possible involvement of public officials in promoting a controversial drug to treat COVID-19 that had not been officially approved for such use. Egi and Miftahul are facing charges of defamation and slander or libel that could carry possible prison sentences of up to six years.

Another case revolves around a YouTube video on the alleged involvement of Indonesian army officials and retirees in plans to mine gold in Blok Wabu in Intan Jaya, Papua. The video was published by prominent human rights defender Haris Azhar, where he and Fatia Maulidiyanti, the Coordinator of KontraS, discussed the political economy of military placement in Intan Jaya, Papua. Haris and Fatia were reported to the police by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, over their statement that claims the Minister was involved in mining business in Papua.

[1] They are Usman Hamid of Kontras (The Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence) and Illian Deta Artasari and Emerson Yuntho of Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW). See “Libel Suspects to Disregard Summons,” Jakarta Post, October 14, 2009.

Barriers to International Contact

Foreign foundations face a requirement to refrain from activities which “disrupt the stability and the unity“ of Indonesia or “disrupt diplomatic ties.” Excessive bureaucratic controls also require them to have residency and minimum assets for their establishment (USD1 million for a foreign legal entity and USD100,000 for a foreign individual).

Barriers to Resources

The Law on Foundations requires foundations that have received donations from the state, overseas parties, or third parties totaling 500 million Indonesian rupiah (IDR) or more to be audited by a public accountant and to have their annual report summaries published in an Indonesian-language daily newspaper. Foundations are allowed to engage in commercial activities to support the attainment of their objectives through setting up commercial enterprises and/or participating as shareholders in commercial enterprises. Associations, on the other hand, are not allowed to do so. If a foundation sets up its own commercial enterprise, the activities of the enterprise must relate to the foundation’s statutory purposes. These activities are defined broadly, including the fields of human rights, art, sport, consumer protection, education, environment, health, and the pursuit of knowledge. Shareholding by a foundation is allowed, provided that it does not exceed 25 percent of the total value of the foundation’s assets. In order to maintain good corporate governance, no member of the governing, supervisory, or executive board of a foundation can simultaneously serve as a manager, supervisor, member of the Board of Directors, or member of the Board of Commissioners of any commercial enterprise that a foundation establishes or in which it invests.

In October 2011, the House of Representatives passed the zakat (Islamic mandatory alms) management bill into law (Undang-undang tentang Pengelolaan Zakat). According to the new law, individuals are still allowed to establish zakat collection agencies under the supervision of the government-owned National Alms Agency (Baznas), provided that they meet all administrative requirements, including having a recommendation from Baznas and technical ability to run their alms collection and distribution programs. During the House discussion before the bill was passed, a number of legislators questioned some provisions that provide that alms collection and distribution can only be carried out by a societal organization with legal entity status. The legislators said that the new law will force community-based alms management groups to stop their alms collection and distribution activities since they have no resources or capacity to establish a societal organization with legal entity status.

Barriers to Assembly

Law No. 9 of 1998 on Freedom to Express an Opinion in Public governs various kinds of assemblies, including demonstrations, rallies, public meetings and open forums.

Advance Notification
According to Law No. 9 of 1998, the organizer of an assembly shall submit information regarding the assembly in writing to the police at least 24 hours before the event, unless the assembly relates to academic activities on campus or to religious activities. (Article 10)

The advance notification shall contain the following information:

  1. purpose of the assembly,
  2. venue/location/route,
  3. time and duration of the assembly,
  4. form of the assembly,
  5. name of the person in charge, and
  6. name and address of the organization/group/individuals, any equipment that will be used, and number of participants. (Article 11)

The police may dismiss the assembly if they find equipment used in the assembly that is harmful for public safety or if the organizer fails to fulfill the information requirements in Article 10 and 11.

The law does not allow spontaneous demonstrations, unless it is in the form of an academic forum and held on a campus.

Time, Place and Manner Restrictions.
Article 9 of Law No. 9 of 1998 lists places and times that are not allowed for assemblies, including: the presidential palace, religious places, military installations, hospitals, seaports and airports, train stations, land transport terminals, and vital national objects. Assemblies are not allowed on national holidays.

On October 28, 2015, the Governor of Jakarta issued Gubernatorial Regulation No. 228/2015 on the control of free speech in public spaces. The regulation provides that public protests can only be conducted in three designated areas in Jakarta. All three are located in Central Jakarta and reportedly in venues that are rarely used as protest sites. Public protests also can only take place between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and the noise level of the sound system should not exceed 60 decibels. Sixty decibels is about as loud as a conversation in a restaurant. Convoys would also be prohibited in demonstrations. CSOs widely criticized the measure. The Governor subsequently stated that he made a mistake in the regulation, specifically that the regulation should not limit demonstration to only those three locations, and he would revise it.

In mid-November 2015, the Governor issued the more lenient Gubernatorial Regulation No. 232/2015 to replace the previous regulation. While the previous regulation allowed only three locations in Jakarta for demonstrations, the new regulation provides that the three named locations are provided by the city administration for demonstrations. Protesters can demonstrate in other public spaces, so long as they do not damage public facilities, litter, or violate human rights. Convoys are no longer prohibited during demonstrations. However, the regulation still requires that public protests take place only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and the noise level of the sound system does not exceed 60 decibels.

In addition, days before the start of the Peoples’ Global Conference (PGC), which is a civil society-led movement that opposes the International Monetary Fund-World Bank (IMF-WB), the Indonesian government ordered a ban on all forms of public assembly and gatherings in Bali. The Bali Intelligence Police, for example, denied a permit to the PGC to assemble, and the administrators of Radio Republik Indonesia Auditorium, which was going to host a PGC event, disallowed the PGC’s use of its venue at the last minute, claiming it needed to undergo “urgent renovations.” The IMF-WB Annual Meetings in Bali from October 11-14, 2018 were considered to be one of the year’s most significant world economic events.

Responsibilities of Organizers
For every 100 participants in a demonstration or rally, organizers must designate at least five persons in charge. (Article 12(2))

Criminal Penalties
Law No. 1/PNPS/1965 on The Prevention of Misuse and/or Defamation of Religions, which regulates religious defamation or blasphemy, imposes criminal penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment on individuals or groups that “deviate” from the basic teachings of the official religions. This law may be used against organizers and participants of assemblies promoting religious freedom.

In addition, the Indonesian Criminal Code (inherited from the colonial period) contains provisions on criminal defamation and libel (Article 310, Article 311, Article 316, and Article 207), which may be applied to organizers and participants of assemblies. The use any separatist movement’s symbols, such as a flag, is treason according to articles 104-107 of the Criminal Code; these articles have been used against assemblies in Papua against the West Papua Separatist Movement.

Enforcement
An assembly involving a separatist movement or land dispute may be subject to harsher regulatory treatment. For example, many protests in West Papua (where demonstrators are believed to represent separatist groups) have been broken up with the use of weapons. In addition, on August 2, 2017, the government disbanded the Muslim hard-line group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) for conducting activities that contradict state ideology of Pancasila and the principle of a unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia. The decision was taken following the issuance of a regulation in lieu of the Law on Mass Organizations, which has sparked concerns over potential violations of the right to assemble because it grants the government the power to disband mass groups without due process.

Reports of repression by Indonesian security forces against protesters and activists resurfaced in Papua, where civil unrest over discrimination, racism, and self-determination efforts began taking place anew in mid-August 2019. An additional 6,000 police and military personnel were flown to Papua to reinforce an already heavy military presence in the region, while the government cut off internet access in the region’s two provinces on August 22, 2019 after restricting access to Papua for foreign journalists and rights monitors. The government maintained that the internet blackout was necessary due to the “the spread of hoax information, lies, expressions of hatred, [and] provocations related to Papuan issues.”

At least 10 Papuans died during that period of unrest, including during a protest on August 28, 2019 in which uniformed police shot live ammunition into a crowd of Papuan protesters. Multiple activists were also arrested for flying or traveling with the Papuan Morning Star flag. Indonesian police further charged Veronica Koman, a prominent Indonesian human rights lawyer, with “spreading fake news and provoking unrest” regarding the protests under the country’s controversial electronic information and transactions law.

On June 3, 2020, a panel of judges at the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) sided with civil society groups in their lawsuit against the government’s decision to impose an internet blackout during weeks of protests in Papua and West Papua last year, declaring that such move violated the law. The petitioners, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) and the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), among other groups, filed a lawsuit against the President and the Communications and Information Ministry in January. They said the blackout, which officials argued was put in place to prevent fake news from spreading, was flawed in authority, substance, and procedure.

Notable Protest Movements

There have been several major protest movements in recent years. For example, throughout October 2020, unionized workers, university and high school students, and other civil society members protested for the repeal of the Omnibus for Work Creation Law, which the House of Representatives passed on October 5, 2020. The number of participants ranged from several hundred to around 15,000 people and the protests occurred in major cities, such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Makassar, Jambi, Medan, and Jayapura, as well as in more than 40 towns and cities. The 1000-page Bill was criticized since the beginning of the year for weakening benefits to employees, such as the ease of hiring and firing workers. The Bill was also said to weaken the role of district governments in determining wage levels.

One year earlier, in 2019, thousands of students participated in Reformasi Dikorupsi (Reform Corrupted) nationwide rallies to protest against Indonesia’s democratic backsliding in front of the House of Representatives complex in Jakarta from September 24 to September 30. The protesters delivered seven demands, including for  the rejection of several controversial bills, such as the revised Corruption Eradication Commission Law and Mining Law, the resolution of past human rights violation cases, and the cessation of the militarization and securitization in the Papua region. This wave of demonstration was considered the largest student movement since the 1998 reformation, which brought political reform and the resignation of then-President Suharto.

UN Universal Periodic Review Reports Universal Periodic Review: Indonesia (2017)
Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs Indonesia
USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes USIG: Indonesia
U.S. State Department 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Indonesia
Fragile States Index Reports Foreign Policy Fragile States Index 2022
IMF Country Reports Indonesia and the IMF
Human RIghts Watch Indonesia
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library Indonesia
Amnesty International Indonesia

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change.  If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

General News

Hard-fought Indonesian Sexual Violence Bill passes (April 2022)
The House of Representatives passed the Sexual Violence Bill into law during the parliament’s plenary session on April 12, 2022 through a near-unanimous affirmative response. The Bill had been fought for since 2016, and its discussions had faced obstacles such as rejections from members of parliament.

Prominent human rights defenders named as suspects in defamation case (March 2022)
Lokataru Foundation founder Haris Azhar and KontraS coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti have been officially named suspects by the Metro Jaya Police in a defamation case against Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut Binsar Panjaitan. Azhar insisted that he would not remain silent in the process.

United Nations issues statement on ‘shocking abuses’ against indigenous Papuans (March 2022)
On March 1, UN human rights experts expressed serious concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, citing shocking abuses against indigenous Papuans, including child killings, disappearances, torture, and mass displacement of at least 5,000 Papuans by security forces. The experts called for urgent humanitarian access to the region and urged the Indonesian Government to conduct complete and independent investigations into abuses against the indigenous peoples.

Members of Tano Batak community arrested when protesting (November 2021)
On November 25, members of Tano Batak indigenous community protested in front of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Jakarta. They urged the Minister to revoke the permit and close Toba Pulp Lestari business activity as it has caused heavy environmental damage to surrounding North Sumatra’s Lake Toba and created conflict between local people and the pulp company.

Terror attacks on Yogyakarta Legal Institute office (October 2021)
On September 18 2021, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Yogyakarta) office, a branch office of the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia, YLBHI). YLBHI strongly suspects that this attack was carried out by those who were disturbed by the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute / LBH Yogyakarta’s advocacy efforts in providing legal assistance to cases of the poor community that were being handled. Previously during this year, there were seven terror attacks and threats faced by LBH in various offices.

Prominent human rights defenders reported over a statement on YouTube (September 2021)
The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, reported Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti to Polda Metro Jaya over their statement on Haris Azhar’s YouTube channel claiming that the Minister was involved in mining businesses in Papua. Prior to the police report, Luhut sent two subpoenas to the Lokataru Executive Director and the KontraS Coordinator requesting the two to make a public apology. Civil Coalition stated that the statement is based on research titled ‘Political Economy of Military Placement in Papua in the Case of Intan Jaya,’ around concerns related to the escalation of armed or violent conflict triggered by security and military operations.

Bali Legal Aid Institute Director cited for ‘treason’ after assisting Papuan protesters (August 2021)
The director of the Bali Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), Ni Kadek Vany Primaliraning, has been reported to the Bali regional police for treason for allegedly facilitating a mass action by Papuan activists. The report concerns an act of alleged makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) and conspiracy to commit makar.

House of Representatives passed the Papuan Special Autonomy Law revision (July 2021)
House of Representatives passed the revision of Papuan Special Autonomy Law, extending the Special Autonomy status of the region. Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian stated the new law aims to boost the autonomy funds, healthcare and education in the region, ensure affirmative action for indigenous Papuans in local politics, and funnel more pproceeds from oil and gas. The passing of this law amidst the pandemic sparked protests from activists who warned it would increase Jakarta’s grip on the resource-rich area and further strips critical aspects of decentralisation. Protests were forcibly disrupted and protesters arrested arbitrarily.

Repression and Cyberattacks against Student Body Criticizing Jokowi (June 2021)
Following the controversial Instagram post that nicknamed President Jokowi ‘King of Lip Service’ on its Instagram handle @bemui_official, the University Indonesia Student Executive Body (BEM UI) summoned by the UI Rectorate and experienced cyberattacks. The UI’s Head of Public Relations and Information Disclosure, Amelita Lusia, said the post violated the university regulations. Several members of BEM UI reported hackings of their social media accounts including Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram.

Surge of cyberattacks among anti-corruption activists (May 2021)
Indonesian anti-corruption activists have suffered a surge of digital attacks, from the hacking of messaging accounts to the sabotage of a zoom conference with pornography for speaking out against the sacking of 75 officials from the agency. Campaigns group said that the sacking appeared to be abid to undermine the Corruption Eradication Commission work. Since May, Indonesia Corruption Watch activists had faced digital harassment starting with its six members WhatsApp account became inaccessible as they were taking parts in a video conference discussing the dismissals. Previously, Corruption Eradication Commission officials fail civic knowledge test to become state apparatus.

Critics over Civic Knowledge Test for Corruption Eradication Commission Officials (May 2021)
Human rights groups heavily criticized the contents of the Corruption Eradication Commission’s state apparatus civic knowledge test, an exam before KPK employees switch their status into state apparatus. Several questions were deemed sexist, unethical and irrelevant to the tasks and responsibilities of an anti-corruption agency employees. The tests contained questions about marital status, sexual orientation, willingness to be a second wife, as well as religious views. The test follows the passing of Law No. 19/2019 which changes Corruption Eradication Commission status as an independent agency to a state agency. The change requires existing officials to undergo a test to become a state apparatus.

Papua’s armed organization formally labelled as terrorist organization (April 2021)
The Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal, and Security Affairs formally labelled Papua’s armed organization, the West Papua National Army-Free Papua Organization (TNPB-OPM), a terrorist organization. The decision comes after a series of attacks by TNPB-OPM in April that resulted in the death of the Head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in Papua. Critics claimed that the labelling will only complicate the resolution of Papua’s long standing conflict.

Virtual Police Squad Formed to Monitor Citizens Online (February 2021)
The Indonesian National Police Chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo announced the launch of virtual police in an official Circular, tasked to monitor and reprimand social media users for posting potential content that could be charged under the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law. The Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFENet) concerned that the virtual police officers would intrude too far into the private lives of citizens in the digital space. Rather than providing security online, SAFENet claimed that they will instead give rise to new fears, where police can appear at any time in citizens’ digital space. The virtual police could possibly destroy the civic freedoms and online civic space.

New antiterror policy sparks fears of witch hunt (January 2021)
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo signed Presidential Regulation No. 7/2021 on a national action plan containing strategies to mitigate violent extremism that could  lead to terrorism. However, rights activists have cautioned it could lead to wrongful arrests and division among the public. Indonesia’s two biggest Muslim mass organizations have also urged the government to provide details of the new policy, warning that it could become a new source of societal conflict in the country.

Omnibus Bill; FRI Voices Motion of No Confidence Against Govt, DPR (October 2020)
The Fraksi Rakyat Indonesia (FRI), which comprise various mass organizations, on Monday declared a motion of no confidence against the Indonesian government and the House of Representatives (DPR), which is mainly driven by the plans to pass the Job Creation Omnibus Bill.

Indonesia’s Stimulus Plan Draws Fire From Environmentalists and Unions (October 2020)
Indonesia’s Parliament is on the verge of approving a sweeping coronavirus stimulus package that opponents charge would undermine worker protections and permit widespread destruction of the country’s rainforests. A confederation of labor unions is calling for a three-day national strike starting on Tuesday over provisions in the bill that would reduce job security, wages and mandatory days off. Union leaders say the strike has the backing of five million workers from dozens of industries. Environmentalists oppose the measure because it would eliminate environmental reviews for many new projects and could lead to the destruction of primary rainforests that are essential in controlling carbon emissions and slowing climate change.

Guide to omnibus bill on job creation (February 2020)
The government has submitted the controversial omnibus bill on job creation to the House of Representatives, aiming for a conclusion in deliberation within 100 days. It would amend 73 laws and consists of 15 chapters and 174 articles, but labor groups are protesting the bill over potential reductions in their rights, remuneration and job security. The Jakarta Post has provided a guide to the bill.

Indonesian students vow to return to streets (February 2020)
The head of the University of Indonesia’s (UI) student executive body (BEM), Fajar Adi Nugroho, says the university’s students are planning to stage a rally against a proposed bill on job creation. The students took to the streets in late September and early October 2019 to protest against controversial revisions of the Criminal Code and the Corruption Eradication Commission Law, among other pieces of legislation.

Journalist threatened after exposing pro-Indonesian bots on Twitter (September 2019)
A journalist has been sent threatening messages after exposing a network of internet robots spreading pro-Indonesian propaganda on social media during the unrest in the Papuan provinces. Journalist and open source investigator Benjamin Strick identified the bot network operating on Twitter after examining several days worth of tweets with hashtags such as #WestPapua and #FreeWestPapua.

Investigate Deaths of Papuan Protesters (September 2019)
Indonesian authorities should impartially investigate the deaths of at least 10 Papuans during recent unrest in the easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua, Human Rights Watch said today. Restrictions on access to Papua for foreign journalists and rights monitors and a partial internet shutdown have hindered reporting on the situation.

Indonesia police name suspect in West Papua unrest (September 2019)
Indonesian police have named a human rights lawyer and activist a suspect for alleged incitement and spreading fake news online increasing violent protests in the country’s restive West Papua region. Luki Hermawan, regional police chief in Indonesia’s East Java province, said on Wednesday that Veronica Koman was also wanted for violating the country’s cybercrime law.

Govt revokes controversial research policy, set to gather ‘input’ (February 2018)
Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo voided late a much-maligned regulation aimed at screening research projects that carried “negative impacts” on the country in an about-face that came only hours after he had defended the policy. Issued on Janury 17, 2018, Home Ministry Regulation No. 3/2018 on the research information letter (SKP) allowed authorities to assess the “potential negative impacts” of a particular research project, a mechanism that resembled the Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) requirement for businesses that could harm the environment. The regulation obliged researchers – individuals or groups – to report their research results to the Home Ministry, replacing a 2014 regulation that only obliged researchers to report to local administration officials, which would then issue a research recommendation.

Civil Society Join Forces Against Amended MD3 Law (February 2018)
Civil societies are joining forces against a recent amendment to the 2014 Legislative Law, known locally as the MD3 Law, passed this week by the House of Representatives, which many fear may jeopardize free speech and democracy in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. “Through the MD3 Law, parliament has amassed more power as a legislative body … even surpassing the power of law enforcement authorities,” Setara Institute chairperson Hendardi said in a statement.

Parliament passes controversial law targeting its critics (February 2018)
Members of Indonesia’s House of Representatives have come under fire for passing a law giving themselves powers to obstruct corruption investigations and even press charges against their critics.

Indonesia’s Rising Fundamentalism Gets Uglier in Election Year (January 2018)
On December 12, hundreds of Islamists protested outside Facebook’s headquarters in Jakarta, accusing the social media giant of discrimination for blocking pages operated by hardline groups that allegedly inflame religious tensions. The Law and Human Rights Ministry officially revoked Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia’s (HTI) status as a legal entity following the issuance of a regulation instead of the law on mass organizations (Perppu). It was the first group to be disbanded under the controversial regulation, which grants the government the power to disband any groups it deems to be anti-Pancasila. The Perppu has sparked concerns over potential violations of the right to assemble as it grants the government the power to disband mass groups without due process.

Indonesia disbands Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir (August 2017)
The government has disbanded Muslim hard-line group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) for conducting activities that contradict state ideology of Pancasila and the principle of a unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia. The Law and Human Rights Ministry officially revoked HTI’s status as a legal entity on August 2. The move was taken following the issuance of a regulation in lieu of the Law (Perppu) on Mass Organizations. The Perppu has sparked concerns over potential violations of the right to assemble as it grants the government the power to disband mass groups without due process

Can Hizbut Tahrir really be dissolved? (June 2017)
Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto set off a storm of both praise and condemnation when he announced on 8 May that the government would dissolve Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), a societal organisation (or ormas) that aims to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate. If HTI is to be banned, the government must be able to prove that HTI has violated provisions in the Ormas Law. If the government does submit an application to ban HTI, hopefully this will prompt thorough and careful debate. The courts must also work independently and impartially. The role of the courts is not to judge the extent to which HTI complies with Pancasila. Their role is simply to decide whether HTI has engaged in activities that mean it should be banned.

Jokowi administration moves to ban Islamic group (May 2017)
Following a string of sectarian rallies in the country’s capital and other provinces, the government decided on Monday to ban the hard-line Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) group on the grounds that its activities contradicted the Pancasila state ideology and had become a threat to the country’s unity. The ban recommendation, if passed by a court, would be the second time the government banned the activities of religious minorities in the country.

Terror Groups Targeted in New Anti-Terror Law (October 2016)
National Counterterrorism Agency chief Comr. Gen. Suhardi Alius said a new anti-terrorism law will lend authorities the power to launch preventive actions against terror groups, including prosecuting hate speech and banning international terror organizations.Suhardi said the agency, or BNPT, will implement the so-called “proactive law enforcement” to tackle terrorism, preventing radical groups from turning into full-blown terror groups. “The authorities will have the power to bring to court individuals or groups committing hate speech or provocation, conducting military training or joining other groups that have pledged allegiance to international terrorist organizations,” Suhardi said at a press briefing for the “Two Years of Jokowi-Kalla Administration” event in Jakarta. The idea has been opposed by human rights activists, who argue it may cause a shift in the country’s approach to terrorism, from a criminal justice model to what they have called “a war model.”

Proposed amendments to Indonesia’s Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law aim to protect children by criminalizing “cyberbullying,” but some activists and free-speech advocates warn that the new legislation could also be used to stifle legitimate dissent. According to Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), these reforms could undermine Indonesia’s freedom of expression because there’s no clear definition of what constitutes bullying in the country’s legal system. Eddyono fears that the authorities could use the inserted provision to squash and even prevent public criticism.

News Archive

Ahok backs down, revises regulation on public protests (November 2015)

Basuki to Revise Gubernatorial Regulation on Demonstration (November 2015)

LBH Demands Revocation of Regulation Restricting Free Speech (November 2015)

Ahok limits freedom of expression (October 2015)

BNPT Calls for Revision of Free Speech, Mass Organization Laws to Fight IS (March 2015)

New internet content censorship regulations in Indonesia (November 2014)

Indonesia presidential candidate Prabowo hit by human rights accusations (June 2014)

Indonesia’s “Social Media” Elections (April 2014)

“Societal Organizations in Indonesia do not Have a Clear Ideology” (November 2013)

Expert: Societal Organizations Law Harms Freedom of Organizations (November 2013)

Indonesian NGO law a setback for freedom of association (August 2013)

A political approach to the social sector (July 2013)

Civil society groups flourish in Indonesia, but threatened by new bill (April 2013)

Corporations named among human rights offenders (December 2012)

Bill on Societal Organizations prioritized (November 2012)

Petition to amend the Law on Intelligence rejected (November 201)

Mass organization bill ‘Risks return to new order’(November 2012)

Pancisla Youth organization in protest (October 2012)

Constitutional court rejects appeal of Intelligence Law (October 2012)

Interview of human rights defender Febi Yonesta (September 2012)

Bill on Societal Organizations set to become law (September 2012)

Politicians determined to clamp down on foreign NGOs (September 2012)

NGO coalition calls for halt to deliberation on Bill on Societal Organizations (September 2012)

National Law Commission discusses the unequal treatment by the government towards CSOs(August 2012)

Foreign NGOs labeled an “overdose” by Indonesian Minister (August 2012)

Greenpeace Indonesia faces mounting pressure (July 2012)

Public funding will make the corruption eradication commission (KPK) more powerful (June 2012)

Greenpeace Indonesia urged to disclose financial information (June 2012)

Civil society groups want transparency in Jakarta grant disbursement (May 2012)

Chairman of House of Representatives calls for greater regulation of foreign NGOs (May 2012)

National police struggle to deal with intolerant groups (May 2012)

EU-Indonesia dialogue should press for progress on rights (May 2012)

Civil society plays a key role in challenging corruption in the Reformation era (April 2012)

Mass organizations must not be controlled (March 2012)

President Yudhoyono tells foreign NGOs not to interfere (December 2011)

Study: Indonesian NGOs must set transparency example (November 2011)

Greenpeace cries foul as eviction papers are served (November 2011)

Officials fail to stop Greenpeace rep (October 2011)

Reason Greenpeace Exec denied entry a ‘State Secret,’ Indonesia says (October 2011)

Greenpeace director denied entry to Indonesia (October 2011)

Government to get tough on ‘untransparent’ foreign-funded NGOs (September 2011)

Aliansi Mahasiswa Desak Pemerintah Evaluasi Greenpeace (August 2011)

Christian group wants Greenpeace investigated: Report (August 2011)

Greenpeace on defensive again over lottery funds (August 2011)

Indonesian lawmaker continues to attack greenpeace (July 2011)

Greenpeace to be expelled from Jakarta (July 2011)

FBR protesters abuse Greenpeace Indonesia staff during rowdy Jakarta rally (July 2011)

Indonesia’s democratic reversal? (May 2011)

NGOs demand Indonesian lawmakers stay home (May 2011)

NGOs demand appraisal on foreign aid (April 2011)

Human Rights Watch urges Govt to revoke Ahmadiyah bans (March 2011)

Peace Brigades International has closed its current phase of operations in Indonesia (January 2011)

NGO: RI should use Asean chair term to promote rights (January 2011)

Events

As a response to the enactment of the Societal Organizations Law, CSOs in the Coalition for Freedom of Association (Koalisi Kebebasan Berserikat), which have been active in organizing rallies and lobbying against the Law, organized an event called “The Fasting of Democracy: The State Restriction on the Freedom of Organization” in Jakarta on July 31, 2013. It was a popular event in which the general public was invited to come and discuss the newly enacted Law from the perspective of the CSOs and to express their support on the CSO initiative to push the government to revoke the Law.

The foregoing information was collected by the ICNL Civic Freedom Monitor partner in Indonesia, Bivitri Susanti of the Indonesian Centre for Law & Policy Studies or Pusat Studi Hukum & Kebijakan Indonesia (PSHK).