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Indonesian Presidential candidates’ human rights pledges under fire for lack of concrete policies

During the recent Indonesian Presidential debate, all three candidate pairs vowed to uphold human rights.

Yet, civil society now scrutinizes these pledges, seeking tangible policies to substantiate their commitments amid growing demands for accountability and action.



JAKARTA, INDONESIA: In the recent highly anticipated Indonesian Presidential debate held last Thursday, all three pairs of Presidential candidates pledged to uphold human rights.

However, their commitments are now under scrutiny by the country’s civil society, which demands concrete policies to back up these promises.

The debate, a focal point of the national political event, showcased various perspectives on Law, Human Rights, Governance, Corruption Eradication, and the Enhancement of Democracy among the Indonesian presidential candidates.

This inaugural debate took place at the Indonesian General Election Office at 7 pm local time and was broadcast on several local TV stations, drawing attention nationwide.

In the upcoming election, three pairs will contend for the positions of president and vice president.

The first duo consists of Anies Baswedan and Abdul Muhaimin Iskandar, followed by Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming as the second pair.

The final pair comprises Ganjar Pranowo and Mohamad Mahfud.

Anies Baswedan champions judicial reform in Presidential Debate

Appeared first, Anies inaugurated the vision and mission presentation, emphasising his apprehension regarding the legal landscape in Indonesia.

During his four-minute address, Anies underscored the necessity for a fair and upright legal system rather than one that descends bluntly.

Anies expressed, “Currently, the law, theoretically upright, is, in reality, distorted—sharp at the bottom and blunt at the top. This condition is untenable, impermissible, and demands change.”

Prabowo promises emphasis on law enforcement, human rights, and government services

Prabowo came up next and underscored his commitment to prioritizing law enforcement, human rights, and the enhancement of government services.

If elected as the nation’s leader, these areas will be the central focus of the Prabowo-Gibran administration.

“Laws, human rights, government service enhancement, corruption eradication, and the protection of all groups are of utmost importance to us.

Hence, in our vision and mission, we prioritise these aspects,” stated Prabowo.

Prabowo additionally mentioned that from a young age, he pledged to uphold Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, committing to defend them with determination and even at the risk of his life.

In the final address, Ganjar Pranowo, in outlining his vision and mission, conveyed a strong commitment to combatting corruption.

He further highlighted the effective handling of corruption issues by his vice president.

“Mr. Mahfud, my partner and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, has executed his responsibilities effectively,” Ganjar said.

Inevitably, a clash of opinions ensued as Prabowo contested Anies’ perspective on strengthening Indonesian democracy.

He referenced the period when he and his party endorsed Anies in the Jakarta gubernatorial election, attributing Anies’ assumption of the position to the democratic leadership of the current Indonesian President, Jokowi Dodo.

Prabowo also underscored that during the 2017-2022 term, his party, Gerindra, officially supported Anies in the run for Jakarta governor.

In response to the critique, Anies asserted that Prabowo lacked the strength to remain in the opposition, leading him to align with the ruling party.

Quoting Prabowo’s statement, Anies remarked, “He admitted that the inability to be in power hindered his business pursuits, emphasising the necessity of being in a position of authority.”

Amnesty International calls for concrete policies on human rights issues

Following the first presidential candidate debate, Usman Hamid, the Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, expressed concerns about the candidates’ promises to uphold human rights, urging the need for tangible policies to support these commitments.

“Don’t let the people be disappointed again, especially those who are victims of human rights violations. Presidential candidates must make real policies.”

He highlighted the pressing need for dialogue-based solutions to curb the ongoing violence, conflicts, and human rights violations in Papua, echoing the aspirations of the native Papuans.

Hamid noted the absence of discussions regarding internal refugee policies, the release of New Zealand pilot hostages, the reinforcement of the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua), and the establishment of a human rights court in Papua.

Additionally, Hamid raised concerns about Prabowo’s militaristic approach, anti-foreign rhetoric, and exclusively economic stance concerning Papua, indicating that such perspectives could perpetuate the cycle of violence and conflict.

“Views like this mean that violence and conflict there never stop. Lemhanas (National Resilience Institute) latest study shows that economic growth has failed to reduce violence and conflict.”

While acknowledging that candidates mentioned instances of violence, intimidation by authorities, and unexplained human rights violations, Hamid pointed out the absence of concrete policies to address the cycle of impunity and hold accountable those responsible, suggesting a revision of the Military Justice Law as one potential avenue for achieving this.

Furthermore, Hamid posed critical questions about the candidates’ strategies: How will Anies implement his promise to resolve conflicts in Papua through dialogue and eliminate the criminalization of criticism?

“How does Ganjar plan to address past cases of severe human rights violations? Equally important, how will Prabowo prioritize human rights within his government’s agenda? ”

Pre-debate polls show Prabowo-Gibran leading

Before the upcoming debate spectacle, several survey institutions have unveiled the outcomes of electability surveys featuring the three pairs of presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

Litbang Kompas, a pioneer of public opinion polls since the 80s, unveiled the most recent survey on the electability of presidential and vice-presidential candidates conducted from 29 November to 4 December 2023.

The findings revealed that Prabowo-Gibran secured 39.3% of the votes, Anies-Muhaimin garnered 16.7%, and Ganjar-Mahfud obtained 15.3%. Meanwhile, 28.7% of respondents remain undecided.

Meanwhile, according to the findings of the LSI Denny JA survey institute, conducted from 20 November to 3 December 2023, Prabowo-Gibran leads with the highest percentage at 42.9%. In the second position is Ganjar-Mahfud with 24.9%, followed by Anies-Muhaimin in the third position at 24.0%.


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