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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Indonesia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1996
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Indonesia, 30 January 1996, available at: [accessed 26 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The Indonesian political system, despite a surface adherence to democratic forms, remains strongly authoritarian. President Soeharto (now in his sixth 5-year term), a small group of advisers, and the military dominate the political life of this heavily populated developing country, whose people come from hundreds of different cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds. The Government requires allegiance to a state ideology known as "Pancasila," which includes belief in a Supreme God, a just and civilized humanity, national unity, democracy, and social justice. It has used Pancasila as a justification for restricting the development of opposition elements.

Under a doctrine of "dual function," the military is given special civic rights and responsibilities, including unelected military seats in Parliament (DPR) and local legislatures, in addition to its defense and security roles. The 450,000-member armed forces, including 175,000 police, consider the maintenance of internal security as their primary mission. They have traditionally acted swiftly to suppress perceived threats to security, with a vigor that has often led to human rights abuses. Some military leaders have raised questions about the validity of this "security approach." There continued to be numerous, credible reports of human rights abuses by the military and police, although they exhibited some restraint in controlling crowds and demonstrations.

In contrast to its restrictive political system, Indonesia has an increasingly open and deregulated economy. Although still a poor country, the economy continued to expand, especially in manufacturing, with gross domestic product expected to increase by 7.2 percent in 1995. The continued economic growth has produced steady gains in living standards for much of Indonesian society. The number of people living below the poverty line has fallen from over 60 percent of the population to under 15 percent. Widespread underemployment persists, however, as do corruption and influence peddling.

The Government continued to commit serious human rights abuses. The most serious abuses included harsh repression of dissidents in East Timor, Aceh, and Irian Jaya. Reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture of those in custody by security forces increased. Reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions and the use of excessive violence (including deadly force) in dealing with suspected criminals or perceived troublemakers continued. Prison conditions remained harsh, and security forces regularly violated citizens' right to privacy.

The Indonesian people continue to lack the ability to change their government. The Government continued to impose severe limitations on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association. It suppressed efforts to develop a truly free trade union movement, but encouraged some developments that appear to open the door to greater flexibility within the registered trade union federation. Labor organizations trying to compete with the official trade union federation were subject to continuing harassment and intimidation. Elements of the armed forces continued to be responsible for the most serious human rights abuses. Military leaders in some cases showed willingness to admit publicly abuses by military personnel and take action against them, including in a brutal incident in East Timor. Punishment, however, rarely matched the severity of the abuse. The judiciary, while still largely subservient to the executive branch and subject to widespread corruption, made several significant decisions against government interests that suggested somewhat greater judicial independence.

The Government continued to exert strong pressure against antigovernment critics, independent journalists, and labor activists. These constraints, however, did not completely dampen dissenting voices in the public and the media. Many human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) remained active, and the Government tolerated wide press coverage of some sensitive issues. The Government announced a phasing-out of a discriminatory symbol on the identification cards of ex-political prisoners and their families, and some easing of restrictions on the right of free assembly both beginning in early 1996. The government-appointed National Human Rights Commission displayed increasing independence, spotlighting abuses and occasionally taking positions at variance with government policies and actions.

On East Timor, no progress was made in accounting for the missing persons following the 1991 Dili incident or the 10 other Timorese that disappeared in 1995. Troop levels remained unjustifiably high. The armed forces used excessive force in making arrests following anti-integration rioting in Dili in October. The Government reimposed restricted access to the province by foreign journalists.

In Irian Jaya, tensions with indigenous inhabitants seeking greater autonomy or independence led to violent repressive measures by military units, resulting in deaths and other human rights abuses documented by several sources, including the National Human Rights Commission, the Catholic Church, and NGO's. Security forces reportedly killed 16 or more civilians throughout Irian Jaya between mid-1994 and mid-1995.

Respect for Human Rights

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killings

Historically, politically motivated extrajudicial killings generally have occurred most frequently in areas where separatist movements were active, such as East Timor, Aceh, and Irian Jaya. Security forces continue to employ harsh measures against separatist movements in these three areas. Security forces in East Timor killed six unarmed civilians in Liquisa province in January. The military court-martialed two soldiers for this killing (see below). There were also several other mysterious killings in East Timor; the limited evidence available suggests some of these too could also be cases of summary execution by security forces, though at least seven are attributed to East Timorese insurgents. There were credible, detailed reports from church and NGO sources that security forces killed 16 or more civilians in Irian Jaya between mid-1994 and mid-1995. Knowledgeable sources report at least two unconfirmed instances of security forces in Aceh province killing civilians without justification.

There were reports that security forces killed members of insurgent groups in armed clashes, including five Aceh Merdeka supporters in Aceh as well as a number of alleged armed opposition members in East Timor. Insurgent groups also attacked and killed security forces.

The Government withdrew two army battalions from East Timor in September, but there has been no noticeable decrease in military activity in the territory. After October riots in Dili, some antiriot units were reinforced. The Government offered a general amnesty to members of the Timorese resistance who surrender their arms, and it was reported to have released some who were apprehended rather than put them on trial. A similar policy was applied to several leaders of the Timorese Clandestine Political Movement.

The police often employ excessive and sometimes deadly force in apprehending suspects or coping with alleged criminals. In response to protests that the methods used are unjustifiably harsh and amount to execution without trial, police generally claim that the suspects were fleeing, resisting arrest, or threatening the police. In North Sumatra, for example, 45 shootings by police, including 3 deaths, were reported by mid-August. Accurate statistics were unavailable, however.

In the past the authorities almost never took action against police for using excessive force. However, there is some indication that this situation is improving, although action taken by the authorities is still not commensurate with the gravity of police abuses. Among a number of disciplinary actions taken by authorities, three policemen were reported to be facing court-martial in Padang, West Sumatra, on charges of deliberately striking a motorcyclist with their car during a chase in April, although the trial had not begun as of late August. In June a military court-martial sentenced an army second lieutenant to 4 and 1/2 years in prison and a private to 4 years for killing six unarmed, bound civilians in Liquisa Regency, East Timor in January. In October military authorities arrested a second lieutenant and three privates suspected of killing civilians in Irian Jaya (see above), and planned to court-martial them beginning in January 1996. Seven policemen were detained in Aceh Province on suspicion of torturing a suspected rapist and causing his death in late July. In Northern Sumatra, at least two civil cases of alleged excessive force on the part of police officials, in one of which the victim died, were settled out of court through monetary compensation.

b. Disappearance

There were credible reports that security forces abducted five civilians in Dili, East Timor, in January. The Government did not respond to repeated requests from the National Human Rights Commission and from foreign governments to clarify the fate of these persons. At least five other persons disappeared in East Timor under circumstances suggesting possible involvement by the security forces, and some credible sources believe they have been executed. Indonesian NGO's documented reports of at least four civilians who disappeared after being detained by military forces in Irian Jaya at the end of 1994. The whereabouts of those abducted are not known, and credible sources believe they are dead. Security forces did not acknowledge the abductions, but announced that they were investigating the Irian Jaya reports and related charges of military killings and torture in that province. Since their investigation of the Liquisa incident in East Timor in January, security forces have become less willing to provide information or to undertake investigations about new cases of concern. Security forces in areas of conflict sometimes hold suspects incommunicado for periods of time before acknowledging their detention. This appears to have become more frequent in East Timor during the latter part of 1994 and early 1995, before easing somewhat later in the year. Suspects are also frequently held for substantial periods of time without formal charges being brought.

The Government made no new efforts to account for the missing and dead from the November 12, 1991 military shooting of civilians in Dili, East Timor. Of those still listed as missing in a report the military gave to Human Rights Watch/Asia, no additional cases were resolved during the year.

Government spokesmen implied that their failure to locate those missing was primarily due to those persons wishing to evade detection. Many knowledgeable observers, however, continued to believe that most of the missing are dead and that some members of the armed forces know where their bodies are located.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Criminal Code makes it a crime punishable by up to 4 years in prison for any official to use violence or force to elicit a confession, and it establishes pretrial procedures to give suspects or their families the right to challenge the legality of an arrest or detention. In practice, legal protections are both inadequate and widely ignored, and security forces continued to employ torture and other forms of mistreatment, particularly in regions of security concerns such as Aceh, Irian Jaya, and East Timor.

In August NGO and church sources provided eyewitness accounts to the National Human Rights Commission of over 40 victims of alleged torture by military personnel in Irian Jaya in late 1994 and early 1995. According to these sources, methods of torture employed included kicking with heavy boots; beating with fists, sticks, stones, and rifle butts; starvation; shackling thumbs, arms and legs; taping eyes shut; stamping on hands; and forcing victims to stand for prolonged periods while bearing heavy weights or to kneel with an iron bar in the knee hollow. In East Timor, torture increased in frequency beginning in November 1994, and included electric shocks, mock execution, severe beatings, and burning with cigarettes. Following complaints, this problem appears to have eased in the case of the provincial police, but continued or worsened in detention facilities run by military intelligence.

Police often resort to physical abuse, even in minor incidents. Prison conditions are harsh, with violence among prisoners and mistreatment and extortion of inmates by guards reportedly common. The incidence of mistreatment by prison officials drops sharply once a prisoner has been transferred from police or military custody into the civilian prison system, and prison conditions generally have improved in recent years. Sporadic cases of ill-treatment have been reported in East Timorese prisons. Officials have publicly condemned police brutality and harsh prison conditions and occasionally instigate disciplinary action, including transfer, dismissal, and trials leading to prison. Such actions, however, are an exception to the rule of general impunity. Political prisoners are usually mixed with the general prison population, although in the Cipinang Prison in Jakarta high-profile political prisoners are segregated. In 1995 the Government allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit prisoners in Cipinang in Jakarta and also granted access to prisons elsewhere in Java, Sumatra, Aceh, and other provinces as well as East Timor. The Government also has allowed the ICRC to organize family visits to political prisoners. Authorities allowed visiting diplomatic officials or NGO representatives to visit East Timor prisoners of their choosing on at least two occasions.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Criminal Procedures Code contains provisions against arbitrary arrest and detention which are routinely violated. The Code specifies the right of prisoners to notify their families, and that warrants must be produced during an arrest except under specified conditions, such as when a suspect is caught in the act of committing a crime. It also authorizes investigators to issue warrants to assist in their investigations or if sufficient evidence exists that a crime has been committed. Despite these requirements, authorities sometimes make arrests without warrants. Security forces reportedly arrested members of the Alliance of Independent Journalists in March before formal warrants were issued (see Section 2.a.). The number of persons detained at least temporarily without warrant by security forces in East Timor increased during late 1994 and 1995.

The law presumes defendants innocent and permits bail. They or their families may also challenge the legality of their arrest and detention in a pretrial hearing and may sue for compensation if wrongfully detained. However, it is virtually impossible for detainees to invoke this procedure, let alone receive compensation, after being released without charge. In both military and civilian courts, appeals based on legality of arrest and detention are rarely, if ever, accepted. The Code also contains specific limits on periods of pretrial detention and specifies when the courts must get involved to approve extensions, usually after 60 days. In areas where active guerrilla movements exist such as East Timor, Irian Jaya, and Aceh, people are routinely detained without warrants, charges, or court proceedings. Bail is rarely granted, especially in political cases. The authorities frequently prevent access to defense counsel and make it difficult or impossible for detainees to get legal assistance from voluntary legal defense organizations. The authorities routinely approve extensions of periods of detention. In addition, suspects charged under the 1963 Antisubversion Law are subject to special procedures outside the Criminal Procedures Code which allow, for example, the Attorney General the authority to hold a suspect up to 1 year before trial. He may renew this 1-year period without limit. Special laws on corruption, economic crimes, and narcotics are similarly exempt from the Code's protections.

The Agency for Coordination of Assistance for the Consolidation of National Security (BAKORSTANAS) operates outside the Code and has wide discretion to detain and interrogate persons thought to threaten national security. It is impossible to state the exact number of arbitrary arrests or detentions without trial, particularly in Aceh and Irian Jaya. In 1995 authorities released at least 64 supposed Aceh Merdeka supporters who were being held without trial, bringing the total number of accused Aceh Merdeka supporters released since 1990 to around 1,000 persons. Many had been held incommunicado without knowing the charges against them; some had been held for over 2 years. The authorities often require those released to report back at regular intervals, but in May 916 former detainees were relieved of this obligation. In East Timor, military authorities continued the practice of detaining people without charges for short periods and then requiring them to report daily or weekly to police after their release. About 100 people were detained without charge during demonstrations and outbreaks of violence in Dili around the time of the November 1994 Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. Detentions continued during further disturbances in December 1994 and January 1995. The authorities eventually charged and sentenced some of these detainees for involvement in civil disturbances or antigovernment protests, including at least eight East Timorese who received prison sentences of 12 to 30 months. Five other East Timorese, widely considered wrongly accused, were sentenced to 5 months' imprisonment for involvement in mysterious nighttime incidents of harassment, beating, and fearmongering by persons termed "ninjas." More than 200 persons were arrested in additional disturbances in September and October 1995. Authorities have announced that several dozen will be put on trial.

The Government does not use forced exile.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution stipulates the independence of the judiciary, but in practice the judiciary is subordinated to the executive and the military, and in many cases procedural protections, including those against coerced confessions, are inadequate to ensure a fair trial.

A quadripartite judiciary of general, religious, military, and administrative courts exists below the Supreme Court. The right of appeal from district court to high court to Supreme Court exists in all four systems of justice. The Supreme Court does not consider factual aspects of a case, only the lower courts' application of law. A panel of judges conducts trials at the district court level, poses questions, hears evidence, decides guilt or innocence, and assesses punishment. While there were some significant exceptions in 1995, initial judgments are rarely reversed in the appeals process, although sentences are sometimes increased or reduced (both the defense and the prosecution may appeal).

In January the 3-year sentence of independent Labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan was increased by the high court to 4 years, but the Supreme Court later overturned his conviction (see below). The sentence of Amosi Telaumbanua, another union leader, was raised from 15 months to 3 years (later reversed by the Supreme Court, see below.) Defendants have the right to confront witnesses and to produce witnesses in their defense. An exception is allowed in cases in which distance or expense is deemed excessive for transporting witnesses to court. In such cases, sworn affidavits may be introduced. However, the Criminal Procedures Code does not provide for witnesses' immunity or for compulsory process of defense witnesses. As a result, witnesses are sometimes too afraid of retribution to testify against the authorities.

In cases tried under the 1963 Antisubversion Law, trials in absentia are permitted and public access generally requires advance approval by the military. The courts commonly allow forced confessions and limit the presentation of defense evidence. Defendants do not have the right to remain silent and can be compelled to testify in their own trials. The Criminal Procedures Code gives defendants the right to an attorney from the moment of their arrest through the investigation and trial. The law requires that a lawyer be appointed in capital cases and those involving a prison sentence of 15 years or more. In cases involving potential sentences of 5 years or more, a lawyer must be appointed if the defendant desires an attorney and is indigent. In theory, destitute defendants may obtain private legal help, such as that provided by the Legal Aid Institute. In practice, however, defendants are often persuaded not to hire an attorney, or access to an attorney of their choice is impeded. The military held five alleged Aceh Merdeka members, who were sentenced in early 1995 (see below), for up to a year without access to attorneys; the authorities did not allow them to chose their attorneys, and those appointed by the court could not see the defendants until just before the trial.

The Supreme Court theoretically stands coequal with the executive and legislative branches, but it does not have the right of judicial review over laws passed by Parliament. The Supreme Court has not yet exercised its power (held since 1985) to review ministerial decrees and regulations. In 1993 Chief Justice Purwoto Gandasubrata laid out procedures for limited judicial review. Judges are civil servants employed by the executive branch, which controls their assignments, pay, and promotion. They are subject to considerable pressure from military and other governmental authorities. Such pressure often determines the outcome of a case, and was widely suspected of being behind an attempt by the Chief Justice to thwart the implementation of a Supreme Court ruling against the government of Irian Jaya in a land compensation dispute. Corruption permeates the legal system. In civil and criminal cases, the payment of bribes can influence prosecution, conviction, and sentencing. To address judicial corruption, the Government doubled judges' salaries in 1995.

Several important court decisions against the Government in 1995 may be a sign of nascent judicial independence. In February the Supreme Court commuted the 1993 sentence of an Acehnese serving 5 years for subversion and ordered his release. It also upheld the appeals court's quashing of the conviction of the alleged mastermind in the 1993 murder of labor activist Marsinah and overturned his conviction. It also reversed the remaining eight civilians' convictions as well for insufficient evidence, indirectly vindicating charges by the National Human Rights Commission and some NGO's that their confessions had been coerced. In May the Supreme Court provisionally released convicted labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan pending a decision on his appeal under a seldom honored provision of the Penal Code, and later overturned his conviction. It also reversed the high court decision that increased Amosi Telaumbanua's sentence from 15 to 36 months (see above). An administrative court in Jakarta found in favor of the plaintiffs, employees of the banned periodical Tempo, in their civil suit against the Minister of Justice for revoking Tempo's publication license in 1993. The High Court unanimously upheld this decision in November, stating that the ministerial regulations permitting publications to be banned were in conflict with press freedoms contained in the Constitution. The Government has appealed the High Court ruling to the Supreme Court.

The Antisubversion Law, which carries a maximum penalty of death, makes it a crime to engage in acts that could distort, undermine, or deviate from the state ideology or broad outlines of state policy, or which could disseminate feelings of hostility or arouse hostility, disturbances, or anxiety among the population. The excessively vague language of this law makes it possible to prosecute people merely for peaceful expression of views contrary to those of the Government. In Aceh province, authorities sentenced at least five accused Aceh Merdeka supporters under the Antisubversion Law to 6 to 20 years in prison (see Section 1.e.).

The Government does not make available statistics on the number of people currently serving subversion sentences or sentences classified as felonies under the so-called Hate-Sowing or Sedition laws. President Soeharto granted clemency in August to three former high officials, Subandrio, Omar Dhani, and Sugeng Sutarto, who were serving life sentences in connection with the abortive Communist coup in 1965. Six prisoners convicted of subversion in past years remained under death sentence. In August the authorities announced that two of them, whose appeals for clemency were denied by the President, were soon to be executed, but the executions had not been carried out as of year's end.

Different sources estimate the number of people serving sentences for subversion in 1995, including members of the banned Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), Muslim militants, and those convicted of subversion in Irian Jaya, Aceh, and East Timor, at between 250 and 350. Scores, and possibly hundreds, more were believed to be serving sentences under the Hate-Sowing or Sedition laws. Some of these persons advocated or employed violence, but many are political prisoners who were convicted for attempting to exercise such universally recognized human rights as freedom of speech or association or who were convicted in manifestly unfair trials. The courts sentenced three members of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and a fourth underground journalist to prison terms of 20 to 36 months under the Hate-Sowing articles (see Section 2.a). In September a court sentenced a well-known psychic to 7 months in jail under the articles for blasphemy against Islam in a closed academic seminar in April (see Section 2.A.). In February a district court in Malang, East Java sentenced Jose Antonio Neves to 4 years in prison on charges of sedition for advocating East Timorese independence and accusing the army of human rights violations in letters to international organizations.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or


Judicial warrants for searches are required except for cases involving suspected subversion, economic crimes, and corruption. However, security agencies regularly make forced or surreptitious entries. They also intimidate by surveillance of persons and residences and selective monitoring of local and international telephone calls without legal restraint. Government security officials monitor the movements and activities of former members of the PKI and its front organizations, especially persons the Government believes were involved in the abortive 1965 Communist-backed coup. These persons and their relatives sometimes are subject to surveillance, required check-ins, periodic indoctrination, and restrictions on travel outside their city of residence. Their legally required identification cards carry the initials "E.T." which stand for "Ex-Tapol," or former political prisoner. This readily identifies them to prospective employers or government officials and subjects them to various forms of official and unofficial discrimination. The number of persons bearing E.T. on their identification cards totaled 1,352,896 in 1992, according to the Government. The Government announced that it would phase out the use of E.T. in the process of introducing a new type of identification card beginning in early 1996, while leaving other forms of monitoring and control in place.

The Government has in recent years significantly reduced its transmigration program, which moves large numbers of people from overpopulated islands to more isolated and backward ones. The program is criticized by human rights monitors who say that it not only sometimes violates the rights of indigenous people but also those of some of the transmigrants who claim that they are duped into leaving their home villages without any means of return.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Government restrictions on press freedom continued, following the revocation of the publishing licenses of three well-known newsmagazines the previous year. In May former employees of Tempo, one of the banned periodicals, won a lawsuit against the Minister of Information in administrative court contesting the revocation; the Government lost its appeal of the decision to a higher court, but has appealed to the Supreme Court.

Although the Constitution and the 1982 Press Law provide for freedom of the press, the issuance of publishing licenses under a 1984 ministerial decree is one method the Government uses to control the press. Other means of control include regulation of the amount of advertising permitted and of the number of pages allowed in newspapers. Authorities continued in some cases to issue instructions, more or less subtle, to local journalists on what they could print. The practice of telephoning editors to caution against publishing certain stories--the so-called telephone culture--continued. In August the Attorney General warned in a press conference that newspapers carrying speculative stories about the rumored existence of a Soekarno-era Revolution Fund risked criminal charges. Authorities also warned editors to end coverage of the Minister of Information's alleged public misreading of Koranic verses, which had caused a public outcry, and temporarily banned the Sunday edition of a Jakarta daily newspaper for carrying stories on sensitive subjects. Self-censorship continued to be another publicly acknowledged brake on free expression. In Medan, coverage of sensitive issues such as work stoppages and peasant protests against land clearance operations has remained at a low level since the press bannings of June 1994.

In March the Government struck against two of the unlicensed underground publications which had appeared in defiance of government attempts to limit free and open news reporting. Police arrested the editor of "Kabar Dari Pijar" and three persons associated with the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), which publishes the underground bulletin "Independen." They were tried and sentenced for sowing hatred against the Government (see Section 1.e.). AJI was formed to work for press freedom in 1994 by journalists outraged by the Government's revocation that year of the publication licenses of three periodicals.

The government-controlled Association of Indonesian Journalists (PWI) expelled 13 AJI members, and the Government threatened licensed periodicals with sanctions if they employed journalists not affiliated with the PWI. Active opposition to the new government press measures still continued, however. Independen and a number of other unsanctioned journals continued to publish, providing critical coverage of controversial issues to a limited audience mainly in major cities. Vigorous debate on a number of sensitive topics such as corruption, collusion, the role of the first family in business, and lack of government accountability for funds expended rebounded during 1995, particularly in the English language press. However, major Indonesian language newspapers remain cautious in covering controversial subjects and the statements of prominent critics of the Government.

While public dialog is more free than it was a number of years ago, the Government continues to impose restrictions on free speech. Bandung authorities prohibited noted poet W. S. Rendra from reading some of his poems at a fund-raising event, although he had been allowed to read them earlier in Surabaya. In March the authorities withdrew permission for "recalled" Unity Development Party (PPP) legislator Sri Bintang Pamungkas to address a seminar on economics at Garut, East Java. Pamungkas was one of two legislators withdrawn or recalled from Parliament by their parties (the other was from the government-controlled GOLKAR organization--see Section 3) for their outspoken criticisms of the Government. The police also investigated Pamungkas on various charges related to his alleged involvement in protests against President Soeharto during the President's April visit to Germany and at year's end were trying him on charges of insulting the President during a speech he made in Germany. In April Medan police briefly detained and questioned but did not charge eight student protestors for allegedly slandering President Soeharto. In May the Jakarta office of the Directorate of Social and Political Affairs, which together with several other government entities must give approval for theatrical performances, blocked a permit for a workers' theater group to perform a play in the capital about exploitation of factory workers. In September Jakarta police prevented a different group from staging another play on a labor theme for which authorities had already granted permission.

The electronic media remained more cautious in their coverage of the Government than the print media. The Government operates the nationwide television network, which has 12 regional stations. Private commercial television companies, many with ownership or management ties to the President's family, continued to expand. All are required to broadcast government-produced news, but many also produce public affairs style programming that borders on news.

Over 600 private radio broadcasting companies exist in addition to the Government's national radio network. They are all required to belong to the government-sponsored Association of Private Radio Stations (PRSSNI) to receive a broadcasting license. The government radio station produces "National News," which is by law the only radio news broadcast in Indonesia, and it is relayed throughout the country by the private stations and 49 regional affiliates of the Government station. By law, the private radio stations may produce only "light" news, such as human interest stories, and may not discuss politics. In practice, however, many broadcast interviews and foreign news as well. However, government pressure resulted in one talk show on the private station SCTV being taken off the air for covering sensitive subjects.

Foreign television and radio broadcasts are readily accessible to those who can afford the expensive technology, and satellite dishes have proliferated throughout the country. The Government makes no efforts to restrict access to this programming, and has proclaimed an "open skies" policy, although more and more signals are being scrambled by broadcasters for commercial reasons.

The Government closely regulates access to Indonesia, particularly to certain areas of the country, by visiting and resident foreign correspondents and occasionally reminds the latter of its prerogative to deny requests for visa extensions. The Government requires a permit for the importation of foreign publications and video tapes, which must be reviewed by government censors. Importers sometimes avoid foreign materials critical of the Government or dealing with topics considered sensitive, such as human rights. Foreign publications are widely available.

Special permission is necessary for foreign journalists to travel to East Timor, Aceh, and Irian Jaya. The Government organized at least one group journalist trip to East Timor. Approval for individual trips by journalists to the province, and for travel outside Dili (the capital), became more restrictive, with a number of journalists repeatedly requesting permission, without success, to visit the province.

While the law provides for academic freedom, constraints exist on the activities of scholars. Political activity and discussions at universities, while no longer formally banned, remained constrained. In September a court sentenced a psychic to 7 months in prison for remarks he made about the prophet Mohammed in an academic seminar, but it provisionally released him from custody the next day.

Scholars sometimes refrain from producing or including in lectures and class discussions materials that they believe might provoke government displeasure. Publishers sometimes refuse to accept manuscripts dealing with controversial issues. On occasion the Government bans publications and books outright. In February the Central Java government ordered a new edition of the book "Cerita Dari Blora," by the prominent Indonesian novelist and former political prisoner Pramoedya Anata Toer, which had been banned in 1976, withdrawn from bookstores, and in April the Attorney General ordered the withdrawal of his book "Nyani Sunyi Seorang Bisu" from sale. Most of Pramoedya's works are banned in Indonesia.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association. The Government places significant controls on the exercise of this right, but announced an easing of the restrictions which are still not promulgated. Until 1995 public meetings of five or more persons, as well as academic or other seminars and marches and demonstrations, required permits from the police and several government agencies. While obtaining such approval was usually routine, the authorities occasionally arbitrarily and inconsistently withheld permission or broke up peaceful gatherings for which no permit had been obtained. The press reported 5 instances of authorities denying permits and 26 cases of dispersing unauthorized meetings in the first 8 months of 1995. In January a 1-day seminar on the Antisubversion Law at the Jakarta office of the Legal Aid Foundation, in which members of the National Human Rights Commission participated, narrowly averted being closed by the police, who remained on the premises in force during the session. Authorities in Jakarta and Semarang broke up May 1 International Labor Day demonstrations by students protesting government labor policies, and arrested 13 demonstrators in Medan who were protesting government investigation of prominent dissidents accused of taking part in demonstrations against President Soeharto in Dresden. The East Java government repeatedly denied permission to the head of the PDI party to meet with party chapters and hold public rallies in that province. In June Jakarta authorities forcibly dispersed an unauthorized seminar on Islam and charged its organizer with holding a public gathering without a permit. If convicted, he faces a maximum 4-year sentence.

In response to growing public criticism of the permit process, including from the National Human Rights Commission, the Government in June dropped the permit requirement for university approved on-campus scientific seminars. On August 30, the Government announced that regulations requiring permits for other types of meetings would be liberalized by the end of the year, to take effect in early 1996. In December the Government promulgated regulations governing public gatherings which stipulate that gatherings which are social, cultural, religious, or scientific in character--as well as activities held in private premises--do not require a permit from or advance notification to the police. Seven days prior notice must be given to the police before sociopolitical organizations hold political meetings, and for any meetings which will discuss political issues or which aspire to influence public policy. Such meetings will not, however, require permits. Permits are still required for public festivities, fairs, carnivals, parades, and rallies. Such events are assumed to have been authorized at least 3 days prior to the scheduled date for the event. The new regulations do not govern activities considered to be demonstrations.

The 1985 Social Organizations Law (ORMAS) requires the adherence of all organizations, including recognized religions and associations, to the official ideology of Pancasila. This provision, which limits political activity, is widely understood as designed to inhibit activities of groups seeking to make Indonesia an Islamic state, revive communism, or return the country to a situation of partisan ideological division. This law empowers the Government to disband any organization it believes to be acting against Pancasila and requires prior government approval for any organization's acceptance of funds from foreign donors, thereby hindering the work of many local humanitarian organizations. Nevertheless, a significant number of organizations, including the independent labor organization Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia (SBSI), continue to be active without official recognition under this law (see Section 6).

In the past few years, NGO's have proliferated in such fields as human rights, the environment, development, and consumer protection. In general, the Government has given them rather wide latitude to pursue their aims, including public criticism of government policies and in some cases lawsuits against the Government. The Government seems to have quietly shelved a 1994 draft presidential decree similar to the ORMAS Law that would have brought the more than 700 NGO's under more stringent controls. However, there remain limits on certain types of NGO activities, and authorities reacted forcefully against certain NGO's participating in labor demonstrations or publishing unlicensed newsletters. The Government reacts particularly negatively to NGO leaders and others who criticize its policies when abroad.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for religious freedom and belief in one Supreme God. The Government recognizes Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, and permits the practice of the mystical, traditional beliefs of "Aliran Kepercayaan." Although the population is overwhelmingly Muslim, the practice and teachings of the other recognized religions are generally respected, and the Government actively promotes mutual tolerance and harmony among them. However, some restrictions on certain types of religious activity exist.

Because the first tenet of Pancasila is belief in one Supreme God, atheism is forbidden. The legal requirement to adhere to Pancasila extends to all religious and secular organizations. The Government strongly opposes Muslim groups which advocate establishing an Islamic state or acknowledging only Islamic law and in the fall announced large scale questioning and several arrests of people in Central Java alleged to advocate the establishment of an Islamic state. There are government procedures for banning religious sects in Indonesia. Among those prohibited are Jehovah's Witnesses, Baha'i, and in some provinces the Messianic Islamic sect Darul Arqam. The Government closely monitors Islamic sects considered in danger of deviating from orthodox tenets, and in the past has on occasion dissolved such groups.

Violence between rival factions in the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP), Indonesia's largest Protestant church, continued in North Sumatra throughout 1995, with at least one fatality. In early 1993, citing a threat to civil order, the northern Sumatra regional military commander intervened in an internal leadership dispute which broke out within the HKBP the previous year, appointing a new bishop and helping the new bishop's supporters take over church property. Civilian and military authorities have called the dispute an internal church matter that should be resolved by the HKBP members themselves. For the most part, only supporters of the former bishop have been prosecuted for acts of violence despite evidence that members of the opposing faction engaged in violent acts as well. In late 1995, however, authorities for the first time took action against some partisans of the new bishop as well.

High level officials continued to make public statements emphasizing the importance of respect for religious diversity in the country, particularly following incidents of religious tension in areas such as Flores, East and West Timor, and parts of Java. Lower level officials, however, are frequently alleged to be reluctant to facilitate and protect the rights of religious minorities. There was an outbreak of religion-based violence in East Timor in September and October. In early September, Timorese burned markets and damaged several mosques following reports that an Indonesian official made derogatory comments about Catholicism. The official in question has been sentenced to 4 years, 10 months in prison. Several Protestant churches were also burned in September, sparked by the celebration of a religiously mixed marriage. Clashes in mid-October between security forces and groups of youths led to extensive damage, at least 2 deaths, and 151 arrests. There has been an Islamic backlash on Java calling for the defense of Muslims in East Timor. Property was destroyed and members of the Chinese community harassed in separate incidents in Pekalongan and Purworkerto, Central Java, following incidents in which Chinese individuals were believed to have insulted Islamic traditions.

The law allows conversion between faiths, and such conversions occur. Marriages between persons of different religions are allowed. The Government views proselytizing by the recognized religions in areas heavily dominated by one recognized religion or another as potentially disruptive and discourages it. Foreign missionary activities are relatively unimpeded, although in East Timor and occasionally elsewhere missionaries have experienced difficulties and delays in renewing residence permits, and visas allowing the entrance of new foreign clergy are difficult to obtain. Laws and decrees from the 1970's limit the number of years foreign missionaries can spend in Indonesia, with some extensions granted in remote areas like Irian Jaya. Foreign missionary work is subject to the funding stipulations of the ORMAS Law (see Section 2.b.). Indonesians practicing the recognized religions maintain active links with coreligionists inside and outside the country and travel abroad for religious gatherings.

d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Although in 1993 the Government drastically reduced the number of people barred either from entering or departing Indonesia from a publicly announced figure of 8,897 "blacklisted" people to a few hundred, such restrictions still exist. The Government banned ousted Parliament member Sri Bintang Pamunkas from traveling abroad while investigating his earlier activities in Germany (see Section 2.a.). The Government has appealed a State Administrative Court decision in December that the ban is illegal. Novelist Pramoedya Anata Toer was unable to travel to the Philippines to accept a literary award from the Magsaysay Foundation. The Government also restricts movement by Indonesian and foreign citizens to and within parts of Indonesia. In addition, it requires permits to seek work in a new location in certain areas, primarily to control further population movement to crowded cities. Special permits are required to visit certain parts of Irian Jaya. The military carried out security checks affecting transportation and travel to and within East Timor sporadically in 1995, and it occasionally imposed curfews in connection with military operations. The authorities require former political detainees, including those associated with the abortive 1965 coup, to give notice of their movements and to have official permission (see Section 1.f.) to change their place of residence.

In past years the Government admitted large numbers of asylum seekers from Indochina. Only a relatively small number now remain, and the Government continues to work with Vietnam under a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1993 with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to repatriate peacefully the remaining asylum seekers to Vietnam.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens do not have the ability to change their government through democratic means. The 1,000-member People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which is constitutionally the highest authority of the State and meets every 5 years to elect the President and Vice President and set the broad outlines of state policy, is controlled by the Government through the appointment of half its membership. The remaining half come from the National Parliament (DPR), 80 percent of whose members are elected. In 1993 the MPR elected Soeharto to his sixth uncontested 5-year term as President. Legally, the President is constitutionally subordinate to the Parliament, but actually he and a small group of active duty and retired military officers and civilian officials exercise governmental authority.

Under a doctrine known as dual function, the military assumes a significant sociopolitical as well as a security role. Members of the military are allotted unelected seats in the DPR. In 1995 the Government legislated a reduction in the number of these seats from 100 to 75, or 15 percent of a total of 500, effective 1997. The military will continue to hold an unelected 20 percent of the seats in provincial and district parliaments, and to occupy numerous key positions in the administration. The other 85 percent of national and 80 percent of local parliamentary seats are filled through elections held every 5 years. All adult citizens, except active duty members of the armed forces, convicted criminals serving prison sentences, and some 36,000 former members of the Communist Party, are eligible to vote. Voters choose by secret ballot between the three government-approved political organizations, which field candidate lists in each electoral district. Those lists must be screened by BAKORSTANAS (see Section 1.d.), which determines whether candidates were involved in the abortive 1965 Communist coup or pose other broadly defined security risks. Critics charge these screenings are unconstitutional, since there is no way to appeal the results, and note that they can be used to eliminate critics of the Government from Parliament.

Strict rules establish the length of political campaigns, access to electronic media, schedules for public appearances, and the political symbols that can be used. The Government permits only three political organizations to exist and contest elections. The largest and most important of these is GOLKAR, a government-controlled organization of diverse functional groups which won 68 percent of the seats in the 1992 elections. The President strongly influences the selection of the leaders of GOLKAR. The other two small political organizations, the Unity Development Party (PPP) and the Democratic Party of Indonesia (PDI), split the remaining vote. The law requires all three political organizations to embrace Pancasila, and none of the organizations is considered an opposition party. Government authorities closely scrutinize and often guide their activities. Members of the DPR and the provincial assemblies may be recalled from office by party leaders. In 1995 both GOLKAR and PPP recalled legislators who were considered too outspoken.

GOLKAR maintains close institutional links with the armed forces and KORPRI, the association to which all civil servants automatically belong. Civil servants may join any of the political parties with official permission, but most are members of GOLKAR. Former members of the PKI and some other banned parties may not run for office or be active politically. The DPR considers bills presented to it by government departments and agencies but does not draft laws on its own, although it has the constitutional right to do so. The DPR makes technical and occasionally substantive alterations to bills it reviews. In practice, it remains clearly subordinate to the executive branch, but recently it has become more active in scrutinizing government policy, and exercising oversight of government budgetary expenditures and program implementation through hearings at which members of the Cabinet, military commanders, and other high officials are asked to testify. The DPR has also become increasingly a focal point of appeals and petitions from students, workers, displaced farmers, and others protesting alleged human rights abuses and airing other grievances.

While there are no de jure restrictions on women in politics, only 55 out of 500 members of the DPR are women; 2 women are Cabinet members.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

While various domestic organizations and persons interested in human and worker rights operate energetically, some, such as the unrecognized trade union SBSI (see Section 6.a.) and the Alliance of Independent Journalists, faced government harassment including police raids on their offices, surveillance by police or military intelligence, interrogations at police stations, or cancellations of private meetings.

The Government considers outside investigations of alleged human rights violations to be interference in its internal affairs and emphasizes its belief that linking foreign assistance to human rights observance is unacceptable.

The ICRC continued to operate in East Timor, Irian Jaya, and Aceh, and to visit prisoners convicted of participation in the abortive, Communist-backed coup in 1965, convicted Muslim extremists, and East Timorese prisoners.

While receiving wide support for its work from the Government in Jakarta, the ICRC continually faced difficulty in implementing its humanitarian program in East Timor during 1995. The ICRC no longer maintains an office in Irian Jaya but visits that province from Jakarta several times a year. The ICRC also visits Aceh regularly, but the Government has not approved the ICRC's request to open an office there. The Government facilitated the visit of U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Jose Ayala Lasso to Jakarta and East Timor in December. Travel to East Timor by foreign human rights NGO's has not been approved. Indonesian human rights organizations are able to visit East Timor, but have not been authorized to open offices there.

The government-appointed National Human Rights Commission, in its second year of operation, became increasingly active in examining reported human rights violations and continued to show independence and a willingness to criticize government actions and policies. The Commission's report of its investigation of the January 12 killing of six East Timorese in Liquisa charged that the military forces involved tortured and murdered the suspects, calling into question the military's original contention that they were killed in a firefight. The Commission also sent investigative teams to Irian Jaya in August and September, and found evidence to support NGO and church reports of the torture and killing of civilians by security forces in that province, as well as security police responsibility for disappearances of civilians. Lacking enforcement powers, the Commission attempts to work within the system, sending teams where necessary to inquire into possible human rights problems and employing persuasion, publicity, and moral authority to highlight abuses, make recommendations for legal and regulatory changes, and encourage corrective action. The Commission has yet to occupy its own permanent facilities and continues to have very limited staff support. Although the Government appointed the original Commission members, the Commission fills vacancies in its ranks independently by internal election.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution does not explicitly forbid discrimination based on gender, race, disability, language, or social status. However, the Constitution stipulates equal rights and obligations for all Indonesian citizens, both native and naturalized. Chapter 4 of the 1993 Guidelines of State Policy (legal statutes adopted by the People's Consultative Assembly) explicitly states that women have the same rights, obligations, and opportunities as men.

Article 29 of the Constitution grants Indonesians the right to practice their individual religion and beliefs.


Violence against women remains poorly documented. However, the Government has acknowledged the problem of domestic violence in society, which some say has been aggravated by recent social changes brought about by rapid urbanization. Longstanding traditional beliefs that the husband may "teach" or "control" the wife through several means, including violence, also contribute to the problem. Although women's groups are trying to change the law, rape by a husband of a wife is not a crime in Indonesia. While police could bring assault charges against a husband for beating his wife, due to social attitudes they are unlikely to do so. The Government provides some counseling, and several private organizations exist to assist women. Many of these organizations focus mainly on reuniting the family rather than on providing protection to the women involved. In 1995, the first drop-in center for battered women was founded in Jakarta by an NGO. There are no battered women's shelters. Many women rely on extended family systems for assistance in cases of domestic violence.

Rape is a punishable offense in Indonesia. Men have been arrested and sentenced for rape and attempted rape although reliable statistics are unavailable. Women's rights activists believe rape is grossly underreported owing to the social stigma attached to the victim. Some legal experts state that if a woman does not go immediately to the hospital for a physical examination which produces semen or other physical evidence of rape, she will not be able to bring charges. Some women fail to report rape to police out of fear of being molested again by the police themselves.

By law, women are equal to and have the same rights, obligations, and opportunities as men. However, in practice women face some legal discrimination. For example, in divorce cases women often bear a heavier evidentiary burden than men, especially in the Islamic-based family court system. Although some women enjoy a high degree of economic and social freedom and occupy important midlevel positions in both the public and private sectors, the majority of women do not experience such social and economic freedoms and are often disproportionately represented at the lower end of the scale. Although women constitute one-quarter of the civil service, they occupy only a small fraction of the service's top posts. Income disparity between men and women diminishes significantly with greater educational attainment.

Women are often not given the extra benefits and salary that men receive that is their due when they are the head of household, and in some cases do not receive employment benefits for their husband and children, such as medical insurance. Despite laws guaranteeing women a 3-month maternity leave, the Government has conceded that pregnant women are often dismissed or are replaced while on leave. Some companies require that women sign statements that they will not become pregnant. Women workers also have complained of being sexually victimized by foremen and factory owners.

Women workers in manufacturing generally receive lower wages than men and also are more likely to be hired only on a daily basis. As a result, they are less likely to receive benefits legally mandated for permanent workers. Unemployment rates for women are approximately 50 percent higher than for men.

Women disproportionately experience illiteracy, poor health, and inadequate nutrition. However, women's educational indicators have improved in the last decade. For example, the number of girls graduating from high school tripled from 1980 to 1990. Several voluntary private groups work actively to advance women's legal, economic, social, and political rights and claim some success in gaining official cognizance of women's concerns.


The Government is committed to children's rights and welfare, but is hampered by a lack of resources to translate this commitment into practice. A 1979 law on children's welfare defines the responsibility of the State and parents to nurture and protect children. However, implementing regulations have never been developed, and the law's provisions have yet to go into effect. The Government has made particular efforts to improve primary education, maternity services, and family planning. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that more than 1 million children drop out of primary school every year due mainly to the cost of supplies, uniforms and other expenses, in addition to the professed need for the children to supplement family income. Thousands of street children living in Jakarta and other cities sell newspapers, shine shoes, help to park or watch cars, and otherwise earn money. Many thousands more work in factories and fields (see also Section 6.d.). NGO's criticize government efforts to help these children as inadequate.

Child prostitution and other sexual abuses occur, especially cases of incest between stepfathers and stepdaughters, but data on their incidence are lacking. Some child care experts believe it to be low. While there are laws designed to protect children from indecent activities, prostitution, and incest, the Government has made no special enforcement efforts in these areas. A separate criminal justice system for juveniles does not exist; however, the Department of Justice is drafting legislation to establish a special court system and criminal code for juveniles. In 1995 media attention focused on the case of a 9-year old who was arrested for theft and held with adult offenders by police. The child was also allegedly beaten by police during interrogation. Police officials admitted that juveniles are often imprisoned with adult offenders.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) occurs in some parts of Indonesia. There are no statistics available; the only information available is anecdotal. In Java, it usually takes place within the first year after birth and is performed either at a hospital or by a local traditional practitioner or "dukun," especially in rural areas. Usually a small section of the tip of the clitoris is cut or a small incision is made in the tip of the clitoris with the purpose of drawing a few drops of blood. Total removal of the clitoris is not the objective of the practice, although it does occur if ineptly performed.

Parliament members asked Department of Health officials to investigate the incidence of FGM after the U.S. human rights report came out 3 years ago. They informally contacted the heads of gynecology and obstetrics departments at Jakarta hospitals who reported no evidence of health problems due to FGM.

People with Disabilities

No national law specifically addresses the problems or status of the disabled, nor do they receive special programs or attention. However, during 1994 the Ministry of Social Welfare began drafting regulations on treatment of the disabled partly based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 1994 President Soeharto gave his approval to submit these new regulations to the Parliament; however, the draft is in the Cabinet Secretariat being readied for submission in early 1996. Virtually no public buildings or public means of transport are designed specifically for access by the disabled. They face considerable discrimination in employment.

The Constitution includes the right of every citizen to obtain an education. In 1989 the Government issued regulations covering education for the mentally and physically disabled. However, the regulations do not grant a right to public education for disabled children. While there are some public schools for the disabled, the Government supports the concept that education should be provided by the community in the form of NGO-run private schools that may receive some public funds.

Indigenous People

The Government states publicly that it recognizes the existence of several indigenous population groups, and that they have a right to participate fully in political and social life. Critics maintain that the Government's approach is basically paternalistic and designed more to integrate indigenous people more closely into Indonesian society than to protect their traditional way of life. Human rights monitors criticize the Government's transmigration program for violating the rights of indigenous people (see Section 1.f.).

Where indigenous people clash with development projects, the developers almost always win. Tensions with indigenous people in Irian Jaya, including in the vicinity of the Freeport McMoran mining concession area near Timika, led to a crackdown by government security forces, resulting in the deaths of civilians and other violent human rights abuses. These abuses (see Section 1.b.) were documented by the National Human Rights Commission, the Catholic Church, and NGO's. In its reports on these incidents, the National Human Rights Commission did not indicate that the Freeport company, which operates a large copper and gold mine in the province, was responsible for the human rights abuses in the area. Freeport has denied any involvement in the abuses; some NGO's believe further investigation is warranted. Human rights monitors have expressed concern about the practices of some logging companies which recruit indigenous people for work. According to Human Rights Watch/Asia, this activity in Irian Jaya has separated these people from their traditional economies. Most civil servants in local governments in Irian Jaya and other isolated areas continue to come primarily from Java, rather than from the local indigenous population.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Indonesians exhibit considerable racial and ethnic tolerance, with the important exception of official and informal discrimination against ethnic Chinese, who comprise about 3 percent of the population. Since 1959 noncitizen ethnic Chinese have been denied the right to run businesses in rural Indonesia. Regulations prohibit the operation of all Chinese schools for ethnic Chinese, formation of exclusively Chinese cultural groups or trade associations, and public display of Chinese characters. Since August 1994, firms working in the tourist industry are allowed to produce Chinese-language brochures, programs, and similar material for Chinese-speaking tourists. However, Chinese-language publications, with the exception of one government-owned daily newspaper, may neither be imported nor produced domestically. Private instruction in Chinese is generally prohibited but takes place to a limited extent, and since 1994 has been allowed to train employees in the tourism industry in functional Mandarin. State universities have no formal quotas that limit the number of ethnic Chinese. The law forbids the celebration of the Chinese New Year in temples or public places, but its enforcement was limited in 1995. Chinese New Year decorations were displayed in public shopping areas in major cities.

East Timorese and various human rights groups charge that the East Timorese are underrepresented in the civil service in East Timor. It is difficult to confirm or deny the charges as there appears to be no registry of the birthplace of civil servants, who can be transferred anywhere. East Timorese have expressed concerns that the transmigration program (see Section 1.f.) could lead to fewer employment opportunities and might eventually destroy East Timor's cultural identity. However, these concerns probably were exaggerated. In the last several years, informal migration to the province has sparked socioeconomic tension in urban areas, proving an even greater concern than the formally sponsored transmigration program. In mid-1995, East Timor's provincial government instructed its officials to limit the stay in the province of non-Timorese seeking jobs to a maximum of 3 months. It is too early to assess how well these new measures have been implemented.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

Private sector workers, including those in export processing zones, are by law free to form worker organizations without prior authorization. However, government policies and current numerical requirements for union recognition constitute a significant barrier to freedom of association and the right to engage in collective bargaining. The Department of Manpower uses a regulation that requires that a union be set up "by and for workers" to deny recognition to groups which include people it considers nonworkers, such as lawyers or human rights activists, who are involved as labor organizers. Until 1994 only the government-sponsored All-Indonesia Workers Union SPSI could bargain on behalf of employees or represent workers in the Department of Manpower's labor courts. A 1994 regulation provides that workers in a single company with more than 25 employees can join together as a "plant-level union" and negotiate a legally binding agreement with their employer outside the SPSI framework, although the Government encourages these plant-level unions to join the SPSI. Over 900 plant-level unions existed by December.

There is a de facto single union system, the SPSI and its 13 federated sectoral unions. The SPSI maintains international contacts but is not affiliated with any international trade union organizations except the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade Union Council. The SPSI completed in 1995 a transformation from a unitary (centralized) to a federative (decentralized) structure. Its 13 industrial sectors are now registered as independent unions and are the only unions recognized by the Department of Manpower. The Minister of Manpower has stated that any unions which are formed should affiliate with the SPSI federation, and that the Government will not recognize any unions outside the federation. The Government's stated policy is to improve effectiveness of the recognized SPSI unions rather than to allow the formation of alternative organizations.

Two other labor groups, Setia Kawan (Solidarity), also known as Serikat Buruh Merdeka (SBM, Free Trade Union), and Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia (SBSI, Indonesian Workers Welfare Union), have been organized but are not registered. Setia Kawan, founded 4 years ago, is now essentially moribund.

The SBSI, created in 1992, claims that it has formed the necessary number of factory-level units to meet the legal requirements for registration as a labor union, but its most recent request (in November 1994) for registration as a trade union was denied. The Department of Manpower has also blocked SBSI attempts to register with the Department of Home Affairs as a social organization under the ORMAS Law. The Government considers the SBSI to be illegal. Although the Government has not disbanded it, it has continually harassed the SBSI, especially after large-scale labor demonstrations, which SBSI helped to organize in Medan in April 1994, degenerated into anti-Chinese rioting. The Government arrested a number of the Medan SBSI leadership and its National Chairman, Muchtar Pakpahan, and tried and convicted them of inciting violence in connection with the riots, charges which the International Labor Organization (ILO) and many international observers believed were unjustified. This view appears to be correct. All the others have now served their sentences and have been released. The Supreme Court overturned Pakpahan's sentence (see Section 1.e.). It is widely believed that the Government's actions against the SBSI leadership were intended to discredit or destroy the organization. Government harassment of SBSI, including disbanding its meetings and training seminars, continued throughout 1995.

Because of past Department of Manpower regulations, many SPSI factory units are led by persons who have little credibility with their units' members because they were selected by employers. A new regulation states that employees must only notify their employer that they wish to form a union and that they may proceed if they do not receive a response from their employer within 2 weeks. Despite this new provision, strikes continue to occur because employers attempt to prevent the formation of union branches. These strikes are invariably successful, and the formation of an SPSI unit follows shortly thereafter. However, workers who are active in the formation of the union are frequently dismissed and have no practical protection by either law or government practice.

Civil servants are not permitted to join unions and must belong to KORPRI, a nonunion association whose Central Development Council is chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs. State enterprise employees, defined to include those working in enterprises in which the state has a 5-percent holding or greater, usually are required to join KORPRI, but a small number of state enterprises have SPSI units. Teachers must belong to the Teachers' Association (PGRI). While technically classed as a union, the PGRI continues to function more as a welfare organization and does not appear to have engaged in trade union activities such as collective bargaining.

Unions may draw up their own constitutions and rules and elect their representatives. However, the Government has a great deal of influence over the SPSI and its federated unions. The new head of SPSI is a member of Parliament for GOLKAR, and many members of the executive council are also members of GOLKAR and its constituent functional groups. These persons have been given positions in the new federated industrial sector unions. The Minister of Manpower is a member of the SPSI's Consultative Council. Numerous regional SPSI officials also are GOLKAR members, sometimes serving in regional legislatures. According to credible reports, the Government interferes in the selection of SPSI officers, especially by placing retired military officers in mid-level SPSI positions. The Government has stated that it will cease the practice of placing military officers in union positions and eventually will remove officials with significant GOLKAR connections. The Department of Manpower supported the SPSI in its successful resistance to an attempt by the regent of Kudus, Central Java, to name a retired military officer as SPSI district head.

Under the Criminal Code, police approval is needed for all meetings of five or more people of all organizations outside offices or normal work sites, though the Government late in 1995 announced its intention to relax this regulation (see Section 2.b.). This provision also applies to union meetings. Permission is routinely given to the SPSI but not to rival organizations such as the SBSI which was prevented from holding several meetings over the last few years, including its first congress in 1993. In April police curtailed an SPSI third anniversary gathering in Jakarta. The Government may dissolve a union if it believes the union is acting against Pancasila, although it has never actually done so, and there are no laws or regulations specifying procedures for union dissolution.

In 1994 the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions lodged a formal complaint against Indonesia with the ILO, accusing the Government of denying workers' right to set up unions of their own choosing, harassing independent workers' organizations, and of taking other actions contrary to ILO standards on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. In considering this complaint, the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association declared in April that "legal impediments negate the right of workers to establish organizations of their own choosing" and deeply deplored "the seriousness of the allegations, which led it to believe that the general situation of workers in Indonesia has not evolved but is still characterized by serious and worsening infringements of basic human and trade union rights and violations of freedom of association principles in law and practice."

While Pancasila principles call for labor-management differences to be settled by consensus, all organized workers except civil servants have the legal right to strike. While state enterprise employees and teachers rarely exercise this right, private sector strikes are frequent. Before a strike can occur in the private sector, the law requires intensive mediation by the Department of Manpower and prior notice of the intent to strike. However, no approval is required. In practice, dispute settlement procedures are not followed, and formal notice of the intent to strike is rarely given because Department of Manpower procedures are slow. These procedures have little credibility with workers, who ignore them. Therefore, sudden strikes tend to result from longstanding grievances or recognition that legally mandated benefits or rights are not being received. While strike leaders are not arrested for illegal strikes, they often lose their jobs and have no legal recourse for reinstatement. The number of strikes has decreased significantly since the latter half of 1994, reversing a trend of the previous few years. Government actions to raise and more vigorously enforce minimum wage rates may be partly responsible.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is provided for by law, and the Department of Manpower promotes it within the context of the national ideology, Pancasila. Until 1994 only recognized trade unions--the SPSI and its components--could legally engage in collective bargaining. Since early 1994, new government regulations also permit unaffiliated plant-level workers' associations to conclude legally binding agreements with employers, and some 24 had done so by mid-1995, according to government figures. Agreements concluded by any other groups are not considered legally binding and are not registered by the Department of Manpower. The majority of the collective bargaining agreements between the SPSI units and employers are negotiated bilaterally. Once notified that 25 employees have joined a registered SPSI or independent plant level union, an employer is obligated to bargain with it. In companies without unions, the Government discourages workers from utilizing outside assistance, e.g., during consultations with employers over company regulations. Instead, the Department of Manpower prefers that workers seek its assistance and believes that its role is to protect workers. There are credible reports that for some companies, consultations are perfunctory at best and usually with management-selected workers; there are also credible reports to the contrary from foreign companies. Over half of the factory-level SPSI units have collective bargaining agreements. The degree to which these agreements are freely negotiated between unions and management without government interference varies. By regulation, negotiations must be concluded within 30 days or be submitted to the Department of Manpower for mediation and conciliation or arbitration. Most negotiations are concluded within the 30-day period. Agreements are for 2 years and can be extended for 1 year. According to NGO's involved in labor issues, the provisions of these agreements rarely go beyond the legal minimum standards established by the Government, and the agreements are often merely presented to worker representatives for signing rather than being negotiated.

Although government regulations prohibit employers from discriminating or harassing employees because of union membership, there are credible reports from union officials of employer retribution against union organizers, including firing, which is not effectively prevented or remedied in practice. Some employers reportedly have warned their employees against contact with union organizers from the unrecognized SBSI organization. Charges of antiunion discrimination are adjudicated by administrative tribunals. However, because many union members believe the tribunals generally side with employers, many workers reject or avoid the procedure and present their grievances directly to Parliament and other agencies. Administrative decisions in favor of dismissed workers tend to be monetary awards; workers are rarely reinstated. The provisions of the law make it difficult to fire workers, but the law is often ignored in practice.

Commenting on antiunion discrimination and restrictions on collective bargaining in the context of ILO Convention 98 on the right to organize and bargain collectively, the ILO's Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations' June report expressed deep concern that "in spite of the direct contacts mission that went to Indonesia in November 1993, the discussion within the present committee last year, and the technical advisory mission that went to Indonesia in January 1995, much progress was yet to be achieved to ensure in law and in practice the full application of the convention."

The armed forces, which include the police, continues to involve itself in labor issues, despite new regulations promulgated in 1994 to prohibit military interference when there is no threat to security. There is some evidence that the incidence of such military involvement has decreased since 1994, but not all observers share this perception. Workers charge that members of the security forces attempt to intimidate union organizers and strike leaders and have been present in significant numbers during some strikes, even when there has been no destruction of property or other violence. Members of military intelligence attended and monitored trade union education seminars run by the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI) and an AAFLI-SPSI sponsored seminar on democratization, even though these programs were approved by the Department of Manpower. An AAFLI-SPSI program on legal aid for industrial disputes approved by the Department of Manpower, which the military command in Surabaya halted in 1993, was never allowed to resume despite government assurances to the contrary. Military officials occasionally have been reported present during negotiations between workers and management. Their presence has been described as intimidating by plant-level union officials. A military officer was among those convicted in connection with the Marsinah murder case.

Labor Law applies equally in export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law forbids forced labor, and the Government generally enforces it. However, there are credible reports of teenage children being forced to work under highly dangerous conditions on fishing platforms off the coast of northeastern Sumatra. These platforms are miles off shore, with access controlled by the employers, and in many cases the children are held virtual prisoners on the platforms and forced to work for up to 3 months at a time for well below the minimum wage. According to knowledgeable sources, hundreds of children may be involved. The local government has done little to address the problem.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Child labor exists in both industrial and rural areas, and in both the formal and informal sectors. There are an estimated 2.7 million working children between the ages of 10 and 14, according to a 1994 report of the UNited Nations Human Rights Commission. The number of out-of-school children age 7 to 15 who are economically active may be as high as 6.5 million, according to a 1989 study, and the number would be even greater if those who have not left school are included. Indonesia was one of the first countries to be selected for participation in the ILO's international Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), and it signed a memorandum of understanding with the ILO on May 29, 1992 to guide collaboration under this program. Recommendations for an action plan were developed at a national conference in Bogor in July 1993. During 1995, 30 government labor inspectors received ILO-sponsored training on child labor matters under the IPEC program. However, enforcement remains lax.

The Government acknowledges that there is a class of children who must work for socioeconomic reasons, and in 1987 the Minister of Manpower issued regulation per-ol/men/1987, "Protection of Children Forced to Work," to regulate this situation. This regulation legalizes the employment of children under the age of 14 who must work to contribute to the income of their families. It requires parental consent, prohibits dangerous or difficult work, limits work to 4 hours daily, and requires employers to report the number of children working under its provisions. It does not set a minimum age for children in this category, effectively superseding the colonial-era government ordinance of December 17, 1925, on "Measures Limiting Child Labor and Nightwork of Women," which is still the current law governing child labor and sets a minimum age of 12 for employment. The 1987 regulation is not enforced. No employers have been taken to court for violating its restrictions on the nature of employment for children, and no reports are collected from establishments employing children.

Act No. 1 of 1951 was intended to bring into force certain labor measures, including provisions on child labor which would replace those of the 1925 legislation. However, implementing regulations for the child labor provisions have never been issued. Thus the child labor provisions in the 1951 Act have no validity.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

In the absence of a national minimum wage, area wage councils working under the supervision of the national wage council establish minimum wages for regions and basic needs figures for each province--a monetary amount considered sufficient to enable a single worker to meet the basic needs of nutrition, clothing, and shelter. While Indonesia has succeeded in dramatically lowering the level of poverty throughout the country, the minimum wage rates until recently have usually lagged behind inflation and even the basic needs figures. The Government raised minimum wage rates in 1994 and again on April 1. There is no national minimum wage. The minimum wage varies from province to province. In Jakarta it is about $2 (RP 4600) per day. While in certain provinces the new rates are still below the provincial basic needs figures, the Department of Manpower estimates that, on the average, minimum wage rates equal 108 percent of the basic needs figures, up from 97 percent as of August 1, 1994. The Government announced in November that further increases would take effect April 1, 1996. There are no reliable statistics on the number of employers paying at least the minimum wage. Independent observers' estimates range between 30 and 60 percent. The Department of Manpower increased the number of labor inspectors and announced a scheme of "blacklisting" offending companies, but enforcement of minimum wage and other labor regulations remains inadequate, and sanctions too light. The Department of Manpower has drafted a revision of a basic labor law that would raise statutory fines, which have been devalued by inflation, to more appropriate levels. Some observers believe increased government pressures on employers and memories of the 1994 Medan riots have improved minimum wage compliance somewhat.

Labor law and ministerial regulations provide workers with a variety of other benefits, such as social security, and workers in more modern facilities often receive health benefits and free meals. The law establishes 7-hour workdays and 40-hour workweeks, with one 30-minute rest period for each 4 hours of work. The law also requires 1 day of rest weekly. The daily overtime rate is 1 1/2 times the normal hourly rate for the first hour, and twice the hourly rate for additional overtime. Regulations allow employers to deviate from the normal work hours upon request to the Minister of Manpower and with the agreement of the employee. Observance of laws regulating benefits and labor standards varies from sector to sector and by region. Employer violations of legal requirements are fairly common and often result in strikes and employee protests. The Ministry of Manpower continues publicly to urge employers to comply with the law. However, in general, government enforcement and supervision of labor standards are weak.

Both law and regulations provide for minimum standards of industrial health and safety. In the largely Western-operated oil sector, safety and health programs function reasonably well. However, in the country's 100,000 larger registered companies in the nonoil sector, the quality of occupational health and safety programs varies greatly. The enforcement of health and safety standards is severely hampered by the limited number of qualified Department of Manpower inspectors as well as by the low level of employee appreciation for sound health and safety practices. Allegations of corruption on the part of inspectors are common. Workers are obligated to report hazardous working conditions. Employers are forbidden by law from retaliating against those who do, but the law is not effectively enforced.


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