Tue, 25 Oct 1994

Govt urged to ratify more UN conventions

JAKARTA (JP): To show its seriousness in the promotion and protection of human rights, the government has been urged to ratify more UN conventions covering the subject.

Aisyah Amini, a member of the House of Representatives (DPR), and N. Hassan Wirajuda from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared the opinion that the time has come for Indonesia to ratify conventions on civil and political rights, as well as many other conventions on human rights.

They told a three-day workshop on human rights opened by President Soeharto yesterday, that the ratification was needed to wipe out the impression some foreign countries have of Indonesia not really caring about human rights.

About 270 people, including civil servants, academics, politicians, DPR members, members of non-governmental organizations and mass media are taking part in the second national workshop, which is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the National Commission on Human Rights. The first was held in 1991.

The UN has produced 25 conventions on human rights, but only four have been ratified by Indonesia: Convention of the Right of the Child, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Political Rights of Women and International Convention Against Apartheid in Sports, Wirajuda said.

More than 100 countries have ratified 10 conventions on economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights; racial discrimination; genocide; child; women; slavery; and refugee issues.

The Philippines has ratified 18 conventions, but the number of UN conventions which have been ratified by other ASEAN countries is quite small compared to Laos (9), Vietnam (8), China (8), Sri Lanka (11), India (15), and Syria (12). Like Indonesia, Sao Tome & Principe, a small African country with a population of 10,000, have ratified four conventions only, Wirajuda said.

Wirajuda and Amini said that basically the principles of many conventions are in line with those of Indonesian laws and norms.

They suggested that among the covenants which must receive top priority for ratification are the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


In certain cases, Indonesia can make reservations, said Amini, who heads the political commission of the House.

On citizens' freedom to gather and express ideas, she said this is guaranteed by the 1945 Constitution, but in the implementation of the rights one should respect other people's rights and reputations. The freedom of speech might be limited for the sake of public order and morality.

Amini, however, admitted that in some ways people had been arbitrarily deprived of their political rights.

"Even though the law does not forbid members of the Korpri (Corps of Indonesian Civil Servants) to join PPP (the United Development Party) and PDI (the Indonesian Democratic Party), in reality they will be penalized if they do so," Amini, a PPP activist, pointed out.

Civil servants are told to join the ruling Golkar party.

Wirajuda said that Indonesia should ratify at least 12 more conventions, which have "high universal values".

"Indonesia can ratify three or four conventions in a year," he said.

He also underlined the need to establish special governmental institutions to deal with human rights issues.

Other speakers in yesterday's sessions included Prof. Purification Quisumbing from UNICEF Regional Office, Dr. John Pace from the UN Center for Human Rights, Brian Burdekin from Australian Commission of Human Rights, Prof. Charles Himawan and Prof. Soetandyo Wignjosoebroto from the Indonesian Commission on Human Rights, and Prof. Sunaryati Hartono from the National Board of Law Development.(sim/hbk)