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(Feb 22, 2013) On February 14, 2013, a group of United Nations experts raised concerns about a bill being considered in the Indonesian legislature on mass organizations. The experts fear that it will impose "undue restrictions [on] the rights to freedom of association, expression, and religion." (Indonesia: "Restrictive Bill Threatens Freedoms of Association, Expression, Religion," Warn UN Rights Experts, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website (Feb. 14, 2013); Peraturan Menteri Dalam Negeri Republik Indonesia Nomor 33 Tahun 2012 Tentang Pedoman Pendaftaran Organisasi Kemasyarakatan di Lingkungan Kementerian DalamNegeri dan Pemerintah Daerah [Regulation of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Number 33 of 2012, on Registration Guidelines for Community Organizations Under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Local Governments] (Apr. 22, 2012), International Center for Not-for-Profit Law website.)

One concern is the requirement in the bill that organizations register with the Ministry of Home Affairs and affirm that they are not affiliated with any one political party, as well as that they believe in only one God. If enacted, the new legislation also would restrict the range of discussion permitted to be conducted within the groups. (Keith Herting, UN Rights Experts Urge Indonesia to Amend Bill Regulating Organizations, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Feb. 14, 2013).)

While noting Indonesia's general progress in democratization, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, stated that the government has the responsibility to "ensure that any restriction on the rights to freedom of association, expression, and religion is necessary in a democratic society, proportionate to the aim pursued, and does not harm the principles of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness." (Indonesia: "Restrictive Bill Threatens Freedoms of Association, Expression, Religion," Warn UN Rights Experts, supra). In addition, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt, stated that the bill's provisions "can violate freedom of religion or belief," which he defined as having "broad application, covering also non-theistic and atheistic convictions." (Id.)

According to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, it is likely that Indonesia's House of Representatives will pass the bill during the first legislative session of 2013. (Update, NGO LAW MONITOR: INDONESIA (Feb. 6, 2013).)

Author: Constance Johnson More by this author
Topic: Freedom of speech More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Indonesia More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 02/22/2013