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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.

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