Over 10 years we help companies reach their financial and branding goals. Engitech is a values-driven technology agency dedicated.



411 University St, Seattle, USA


+1 -800-456-478-23

// Information for Refugees

Human Rights In Indonesia

Refugee law

Indonesia is not a signatory the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, nor its 1967 protocol. The Indonesian government indicated a plan to accede to the Convention in 2009 according to the government’s Human Rights Action Plan, but there has been no indication of when this will occur.

However, the right to seek asylum has been guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution Article 28G (2), which says “Each person has the right to be free from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment and shall be entitled to obtain political asylum from another country”.

Existing Human Rights Framework

Article 38 of Law No. 39 of 1999 on Human Rights also guarantees that: “Everyone has the right to seek and receive political asylum from another country.”.

Indonesia has also ratified, among others, the following international and regional human rights instruments:

Law No. 37 of 1999 on Foreign Relations provides that refugees and asylum seekers will specifically be regulated by a presidential decree; however, no decree has so far been passed.

The only legal provision used by the Indonesian government, especially the immigration authority, to deal with asylum seekers and refugees is regulation IMI-1489.UM.08.05, issued by the Director-General for Immigration in 2010. The regulation provides that any migrant who seeks asylum will not be subject to deportation; they will be referred to UNHCR and allowed to stay as long as they hold certification issued by UNHCR. They might also be released from detention upon approval by the immigration authority, and will be subsequently supported by IOM or UNHCR. Those who are rejected by UNHCR will be subject to detention, fines, and/or deportation.

In contradiction with the right to seek asylum, in practice the Indonesian authorities refer to Law No. 6 of 2011 on Immigration, which defines an asylum seeker or refugee simply as an ‘illegal migrant’. Asylum seekers and refugees may consequently be detained for up to ten years without due process of law. The only opportunity they have is if they are considered victims of people smuggling or trafficking.

A draft Fixed Protocol (Protap) on Protection of Refugees and Asylum Seekers was prepared in 2013 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the involvement of various government and legal stakeholders, UN agencies and civil society organizations. The draft requires ratification by the President of Indonesia but this did not occur in 2013 and is unlikely to occur in 2014 given that general elections are due to be held to elect a new President.

International Human Rights Treaties

Despite Indonesia being a non-signatory country to the Refugees Convention, the right of refugees and asylum seekers are theoretically guaranteed under several domestic laws and international human rights treaties:

  • Non-refoulement: article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, as well as in the Indonesian Constitution.
  • Non-discrimination, article 3 of the Human Rights Law No. 39 of 1999, the ICCPR and the ICESCR
  • Freedom of religion: article 28E and 29 of Constitution, article 22 of the Human Rights Law, article 18 of the ICCPR, article 14 of the CRC
  • Right to marriage: article 28B of the Constitution, article 10 of the Human Rights Law, and article 23 of the ICCPR
  • Right of association: article 28E of the Constitution, article 24 and 39 of the Human Rights Law, article 22 of the ICCPR, and article 8 of the ICESCR.
  • Access to court and legal assistance: article 28D of the Constitution; articles 5, 18, 66 of the Human Rights Law; and article 14 of the ICCPR and Law on Legal Aid No.16 of 2011.
  • Right to engage in wage-earning employment: article 28E of the Constitution, article 38 of the Human Rights Law, and article 6 of the ICESCR.
  • Right to housing: article 28E and 28H of the Constitution, article 40 Human Rights Law, and article 11 of the ICESCR.
  • Right to public education: article 28C and 28E of the Constitution, article 12 and 60 of the Human Rights Law, and article 13 of the ICESCR
  • Freedom of movement, as guaranteed in the article 27 of the Human Rights Law, and article 12 of the ICCPR.
  • Right for naturalization: article 28D and 28E Constitution, article 26 of the Human Rights Law, and the Law on Nationality No. 12 of 2006.

This means that there is no legal justification for the Indonesian government to neglect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. However, in practice, these protections cannot be relied upon.

Learn more: