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FAQs about refugees

This FAQ is intended as a living document which will be open for updates, revisions, and additions based on the needs of the refugee community, and the changes on relevant Indonesian laws and regulations.

Fair trial

If I become a victim of criminal acts, can I report my case to the Police?
Yes, you can. You should not be charged anything; the service should be free of charge.

  • Where to report your case to the police station where the crime is conducted:
    – National Police (country)
    – Regional Police (province)
    – Resort Police (district/regency)
    – Sectoral Police (sub-district)
    Once you are at the police station, you can go to the Center of integrated police services (Sentra Pelayanan Kepolisian Terpadu/SPKT) which is tasked with providing integrated police services to reports or complaints from the public, providing assistance, and providing information services for reporting or complaints.
  • When you report your case, don’t forget to bring:
    – ID card/UNHCR card
    – Chronology(5W+1H)
    – Proof List: witness, documents, recording, picture, others (more complete is better)
    – List of the potential perpetrator
    – Other: Power of attorney (if you are accompanied by a legal representative) & Interpreter

What is the process when reporting and knowing that my report has been received or not?
a. The process of the reporting

  • Bring victim/your ID and related proofs (if any) to SPKT/another unit (depending on
    the case);
  • Tell the Police about the information related to the situation or problem that you
    face. They will ask for:
    – A chronology. If you know the article of crimes will be better
    – Information on the perpetrator (if known)
    – List of proofs/witnesses

b. REPORT – accepted or rejected–

  • If your report is accepted, you will receive the Copy of the Report Receipt Letter (Don’t leave before the Police give you a report receipt).
  • If your report is rejected:
    Ask for the reason.

    According to Article 3 paragraph (3) letter b of the Regulation of the Head of the State Police of the Republic of Indonesia Number 6 of 2019 concerning Criminal Acts of Investigation (“Perkapolri 6/2019”) stipulates:
    “In SPKT/SPK receiving reports/complaints, investigators/assistant investigators are
    assigned to:
    a. …
    b. Conduct a preliminary study to assess whether or not a police report is made; and
    c. …”

Based on this, after receiving the report, the Police will conduct a preliminary study to assess whether the report is acceptable or not. If it is declared not accepted, the Police must have a valid reason according to law; for example, the report does not constitute a crime or the person reporting it is not the rightful person.

I have reported and got a report receipt, how to make sure the Police handle my case?
Victims and/or the family have the right to be updated on the case’s progress by the Police who are handling the case. Police on duty for the case have to issue a document containing the investigation process that the Police has conducted, known as Notifications of Proceeds of Investigation (Surat Pemberitahuan Perkembangan Hasil Penyidikan a.k.a SP2HP).

based on

  • Article 11 paragraph (1) letter an of the Regulation of the Chief of the Police of the Republic of Indonesia Number 21 of 2011 concerning the Investigation Information System (“Perkap 21/2011”), says: “Investigation information by letter as referred to in Article 10 letter a, is given in the form of SP2HP submitted to the complainant/complainant or family”;
  • Article 11 paragraph (3) Perkap 21/2011, “Investigation information submitted to the complainant/complainant or family as referred to in paragraph (1) letter a, aims to ensure that the complainant/complainant or family:
    – follow and know the progress of investigations on reports/complaints of criminal cases conducted by investigators; and
    – believe that investigators have followed up on reports/complaints correctly and seriously.”

Make sure you write down the name of the police officer who handled your case. You can see that information in the report receipt.

What if I become a suspect/perpetrator in a crime?

  1. Don’t panic. Think clearly;
  2. Speak respectfully to the official and try to defend your rights;
  3. Ask about the criminal offense that is alleged against you;
  4. Ask the official about the reason for forced legal effort or acts against you (Arrest, Detention, Search and Seizure);
  5. Ask the official to show their assignment letter and to prove their identity;
  6. Ask the official to show the order warrant (the police must show and give an arrest warrant);
  7. Pay detailed attention to the order of the warrant, especially your name, date and location. If there is an error or mistake in any of these (e.g.: they misspell your name), you have the right to refuse;
  8. Ask to speak/contact your legal representation of choice. You can contact a legal aid organization if you cannot afford a lawyer (check Know Your Rights);
  9. Say politely that you refuse to participate in the process if there is no legal representation present;
  10. Disagree being provided with a legal representative that you know nothing of;
  11. Ask the official to provide an interpreter;
  12. Do not agree and/or sign anything that you don’t understand;
  13. You have the right to remain silent until your legal representation is present. In criminal procedure, the authorities must adhere to certain requirements before conducting certain acts. Provided the requirements to act are not met, the suspect or defendant has the right to deny the act to officials.

Can refugees suspected of being criminals get legal counsel?
Yes (check Know Your Rights).

Based on Article 56 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, “In the event that a suspect or defendant is suspected or charged with committing a criminal act which is punishable by the death penalty or a sentence of fifteen years or more or for those who cannot afford it who are threatened with a sentence of five years or more who do not have own legal counsel, the officials concerned at all levels of examination in the judicial process are obliged to appoint legal counsel for them.”

People who cannot afford the services of an advocate (including refugees) can get it for free. There are two ways to get the services of a lawyer for free, and the first is to ask for legal aid from the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) or community organizations. Second, ask for free legal assistance from advocates/lawyers (pro bono).

  1. Article 1 point 1 of Law Number 16 of 2011 concerning Legal Aid (“Law 16/2011”) is defined as legal services provided by legal aid providers free of charge to legal aid recipients. Legal Aid is given to legal aid recipients facing civil, criminal, and state administrative, legal problems, litigation and non-litigation. Its activities are in the form of exercising power of attorney, accompanying, representing, defending, and/or taking other legal actions.
  2. Based on Article 1 point 3 of Government Regulation Number 83 of 2008 concerning Requirements and Procedures for Providing Free Legal Aid (“PP 83/2008”), free legal aid (“pro bono”) is a legal service provided by an advocate without receiving payment of honorarium includes providing legal consultations, exercising power of attorney, representing, accompanying, defending, and taking other legal actions for the benefit of justice seekers who cannot afford.

If you need legal counsel and are unable to pay for its services, you can ask for legal assistance from a legal aid organization or an advocate/lawyer who can help free of charge.

Can the perpetrator not be arrested even though the victim has reported the case to the Police?
Yes, there is no provision stating that every suspect must be detained.

Detention of a suspect or defendant who is strongly suspected of committing a crime based on sufficient evidence is carried out if:

  • Some circumstances give rise to concerns that the suspect will flee,
  • Some circumstances raise concerns that the suspect will damage or destroy evidence,
  • Some circumstances raise concerns that the suspect will repeat the crime.

This is according to Article 21 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (“KUHAP”).

There are other provisions by Article 21 paragraph (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The detention of people who commit criminal acts and/or attempted acts, as well as providing assistance in such crimes in terms of the crime is punishable by imprisonment of five years or more (check Indonesian Code of Criminal Procedure for the full article). The conclusion is, it is possible for a suspect not to be detained.

What can you do if an immigration officer (or someone who claims to be an immigration officer) comes to your house and asks you to submit an identity such as a UNHCR card or passport?

  1. Check the official and their assignment letter as their identity (remember their names, character, etc.);
  2. Check the alleged violation if they brought a letter stating that you violated something (if they bring it, make sure you understand what the letter is about);
  3. Tell them to disagree/sign anything;
  4. Don’t give them any documents in your possessions, especially your UNHCR ID;
  5. DENY THE ACT, if they cannot provide such material on the points above;
  6. Make the chronology and consult with a lawyer for further follow-up.

Access to Asylum/Immigration

When I arrived in Indonesia to seek asylum, could the immigration officer detain me?
If any refugees arrived in Indonesia without any proper documentation, there are risks of being detained by the Immigration Officer here in Indonesia. It is stated in the Article 8 of the Law No. 6/2011 Regarding Immigration that every foreigner entering the Indonesian territory, must have valid travel documents. It then further explains that these travel documents include Visa and an active passport.

In the real case of refugees, they often didn’t bring any completed documents such as Visa and passports and they were easily exposed to any detention when they arrived in Indonesia. It’s really important for refugees to explain to the Immigration Officer that you came to Indonesia to seek asylum. The Immigration Officer will then have to communicate with UNHCR to process your case in accordance with Article 13 (3) and 20 (1) Presidential Decree No. 125/2016 Regarding the Refugees Management. Further, Article 9 of the Presidential Decree No. 125/2016 also regulates the mechanism of receiving refugees who come with a state of emergency. There are mechanisms to transfer any refugees who come by sea to any safe port or
land. After refugees are safe, they then will be assisted with humanitarian assistance before being transferred to the Immigration Detention Center.

If I’m being detained, can I still process my Refugee Status Determination process?
Yes, refugees being detained can still process your Refugee Status Determination. As it is stated in the Presidential Decree No. 125/2016, after the Immigration Officer receives refugees and resides in Immigration Detention Center, Immigration Officer must communicate with UNHCR regarding your situation. Again, it is very important for refugees to explain to the Immigration Officer your intention to seek asylum.

UNHCR will process your asylum application based on the Refugee Convention 1951 and the 1967 Protocol and determine your vulnerability based on its guidance and handbook. There are various options available on how the UNHCR will process your application. They might come directly to you at the detention center and start interviewing you or also there are possibilities that they might conduct the Refugee Status Determination through an online platform. If you were being interviewed, the estimated time of the Refugee Status Determination will last between 2-6 months. Also, it is important for you to prepare a written statement explaining what happened to your Country, why you are leaving your Country, and why you can’t go back to your Country. For more information regarding the Refugee Status Determination, you can visit our Know Your Rights and Self-Help Kit regarding the first instance of asylum application.

After I obtained my refugee status, are there still any detention possibilities that might be
faced by the refugees?

While freedom refugees can face detention in the earliest stages of their arrival, there are many possibilities that detention might be faced by the refugees after their obtained refugee status. This might be caused by the noncompliance with the Indonesian Law agreed by the refugees or regulated by the Indonesian government.

It is regulated in the attachment of the Directorate General of Immigration Regulation No. IMI-1489.UM.08.05 of 2010 regarding the obligations of refugees to comply with the Indonesian government and other prohibitions stated such as obtaining wages or works while staying in Indonesia. SUAKA has noted one case in which the refugees were being arrested after they were caught working in any sector.

It is also important to be noted that, even if the refugees have opportunities to work, the lack of documentation of refugees can also be an important factor that might even harden the situation of refugees related to the right to work. The Regulations of Employment Ministry No 10 of 2018 has stated that for foreigners that would like to work, they should be covered by any insurance (proven by any insurance policy) and should have the Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak (NPWP) document, which are very difficult for refugees as they might have an uncompleted documents as requirements to obtain both documents. In connection with the Immigration Law, Indonesian citizens can also be connected to this working prohibition if they were acting as an employer. As it is according to the Article. 124 of the Law No. 6 of 2011, it states that the employer of the refugees/undocumented migrants can be jailed for up to two years in prison.

Not only related to the prohibition to work, refugees were also not allowed to move from to other locations than the location designated to them. However, this violation was usually based on the other aspects of the movement, such as, the documents falsification as the UNHCR ID aren’t considered legal documents to buy tickets up until now.

In other cases, specifically if there are refugees that are experiencing double rejection by the UNHCR in their Refugee Status Determination process, they were not considered as refugees protected under the UNHCR protection and considered as the illegal migrants according to Indonesian Immigration law. This situation surfaced as one of the legal reasons for Immigration Officer to detain such a person.

Are there any possibilities that I could be deported to my Country of Origin when I’m already in the Indonesian Territory?
Immigration officers could not deport or send back any refugees when they are already in Indonesian territory. It is based on the application of the Non-Refoulement Principle where States are prohibited from refoul or returning refugees to the location where the threat of life and the well founded fear of persecution still exists. This Principle was clearly regulated under Article 33 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951. This Principle was also recognized as a customary of international law by States universally and therefore binding universally even for Indonesia who haven’t ratified the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951. This also applies to any asylum seeker in accordance with the Article 2 Para. (2) Direct orate General Immigration Regulation No. IMI-1489.UM.08.05 of 2010 refugees cannotbe subject to deportation until the determination of their status as asylum seekers is given by

However, there is an Immigration Bill No. 6 of 2011 that regulates legal reasons on which the foreigners can be deported. These were regulated under Article 51 and Article 75. This reason of deportation should be taken into account as it is clearly stated that there are following reasons on why a deportation act can be done:

  • A foreigner carrying an expired or canceled staying permit while in Indonesia;
  • Committing or involved in any activity that deemed as a crime or threatening security or
    public order;
  • Disobeying or disrespecting existing laws or regulation;
  • A fugitive who is avoiding punishment from country of origin.

When I arrive in Indonesia to seek asylum, can I get denied entry to the Indonesian territory
and be returned to my country of origin?

No, refugees who have intention to seek asylum can’t get denied entry and be returned to their respective Country. This implementation is also based on the Non-Refoulement Principle where refugees who intend to seek asylum are returned to where they might face persecution. When you arrive in Indonesia, it’s important to explain to the immigration officer your intention to seek asylum. Immigration officer will then communicate with UNHCR regarding your situation and to start your Refugee Status Determination process. It is stated in the Article 2 para. 3 of Directorate General Immigration Regulation No. IMI-0352.GR.02.07 of 2016.

However, upon arrival in indonesia, immigration may also refuse to enter the territory of Indonesia for the reasons as regulated in Article 13 para. 1 of the Law No. 6/2011 Regarding Immigration because:

  • his/her name is listed on the list of Deterrence;
  • do not have a valid and valid Travel Document;
  • have fake Immigration documents;
  • do not have a Visa, except those who are exempt from obligations have a Visa;
  • has given incorrect information in the obtain a Visa;
  • suffer from a dangerous infectious disease general health;
  • involved in international crimes and criminal acts organized transnational;
  • Included in the list of people looking for arrest from a foreign country;
  • involved in treason activities against the Government The Republic of Indonesia; or
  • is involved in a network of prostitution practices or activities, human trafficking, and people smuggling.

Further as a consequence of being denied entry according to the reasons stated above, Article 13 para. 2 then stated that any foreigners who have been denied entry to the Indonesian territory will be subject to return to their respective Country of Origin.

This FAQ is in collaboration of SUAKA and Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)

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