Press Release BINCANG ASEAN “Mapping the Source of Indonesia’s Refugee Obligations: Does it Exist?”

Yogyakarta, 6th September 2018


ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gadjah Mada held the second meeting of Bincang ASEAN in Thursday (6/9), with Dio Herdiawan Tobing S.IP, LLM, former researcher at the ASEAN Studies Center UGM, who is currently working as Senior Policy Advisor at the Netherlands Embassy, presenting his dissertation on “Mapping the Source of Indonesia’s Refugee Obligations: Does it Exist?” . Held at BB building room number 208, the discussion was initiated with the issue of mapping Indonesia’s refugee obligation from various international legal instruments.

Indonesia is regarded as one of the main refugee transit countries in Southeast Asia after Thailand and Malaysia with more than 13.000 asylum-seekers and refugees. However, Indonesia is a non-party to 1951 Refugee Convention and its additional protocol but Indonesia ratified several treaties such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention against Torture, and Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Indonesia’s first action on refugee is when the government provided Galang Island so that refugee can be settled in the late of 1970.  Indonesia also thinks that they’ve done well to do their obligation such as when they provide the Island on the refugee from Vietnam when Vietnam War happened, so the government doesn’t think that it is necessary to ratify the refugee convention.” Dio said.

In this occasion, Dio attempts to explain the decision made by the Foreign Ministry of Indonesia and other government-affiliated institutions’ stance on the refugees-like issue which is solid: no ratification, no refugee obligation. But the fact is Indonesia has existing non-refoulement refugee obligation that derived from other legal instruments such as ICCPR and Convention against Torture. In particular, on Article 3 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 6 Convention Against Torture.

The findings of his dissertation present that in spite of Indonesia’s non-ratification to the Refugee Conventions, the country remains to have refugee obligation derived from other legal instruments. In fact, the threshold of Indonesia’s refoulement obligation is higher.