Apriza Pinandita, Jakarta – Indonesia and Norway are stepping up their commitment to continuing bilateral discussions on human rights, through which both sides seek to leverage more cooperation initiatives in the future.
At the 14th Indonesia-Norway Human Rights Dialogue in Tromso, Norway on Monday, both sides raised pertinent human rights issues such as children's rights, freedom of speech and religious freedom, among other things.
Leading the Indonesian delegation, Ambassador to Norway Todung Mulya Lubis had noted that regular dialogue was a sign of the improving ties between the two sides.
Separately, the Foreign Ministry's director for human rights, Achsanul Habib, said the annual dialogue had contributed toward strengthening bilateral relations between Indonesia and Norway.
"Indonesia will always be at the forefront establishing collaborative efforts to address human rights issues, especially in the multilateral level," Achsan was quoted in a press release as saying.
Jakarta had used the opportunity to highlight some progress that Indonesia had achieved on rights protection, such as efforts to curb child exploitation by increasing the minimum marriage age from 16 to 19, which the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of this year.
As a result of the dialogue, both countries committed to pursuing better strategies to protect children from cybercrime, Achsan later said over the phone on Wednesday. Indonesia, particularly, wanted to leverage the partnership by improving training for law enforcement.
Indonesia currently has similar mechanisms in place as other countries such as Iran, Russia, Sweden and Canada. "As a member of the UNHRC, Indonesia should expand [engagement] through similar dialogue with other counterparts," Achsan told The Jakarta Post.
The government was intent on further contributing to the human rights agenda in multilateral forums, especially after Indonesia had been appointed a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2020 to 2022 period.
"Indonesia is ready to be actively involved in the UNHRC. [We] will ensure there is no politicization [of issues], double standards or selectivism that can disrupt the work of the council," he said.
Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Aviva Nababan told the Post on Wednesday that the government must ensure that it was not only good at making grand gestures at the international level – which is worth appreciating nonetheless – but also bear in mind that "the international human rights mechanisms were meant to complement national enforcement".
"As a member of the UNHRC we want to be able to say we are actually doing our best in promoting, protecting and respecting human rights in our own backyard, right?" she said, noting that international overtures won't stack up beside human rights issues at home.
"We need to prove that we can reform, for instance, the law enforcement system to prevent excessive force, let alone impunity for doing so."
Indonesia, she said, needed to start signaling domestically and internationally that it can really walk the talk.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo begins his second term in office with heightened concerns from human rights activists who criticize his decision to name Cabinet ministers with a questionable human rights record. He is also under scrutiny for the infrastructure- and security-first approach to the handling of protests in restive Papua, most of which have turned deadly.