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Ratification Urgency of the Refugee Convention and its Protocol in Indonesia

Indonesia has become one of the most sought-after landing-places for refugees and asylum seekers.[1] By the end of January 2012, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it was found that there are 3275 asylum seekers and 1052 refugees registered in UNHCR Jakarta. Ironically, the protection and legal status of the asylum seekers and refugees are not yet guaranteed in Indonesia, although it should also be noted that Indonesia is considered a transit destination and had not taken part in Refugees Convention 1951 and its Optional Protocol 1967.[2] According to the Refugees Friendly Index recorded by Amnesty International, among the 27 countries which public acceptance level towards refugees were rated, Indonesia—alongside Russia and Thailand—ranked as one of the countries with the worst reception towards refugees.[3]

Without ratifying the Refugee Convention 1951 and its Optional Protocol 1967, the government of Indonesia is unable to give a status for the refugees and asylum seekers. Until then, the task lies in the hands of the UNHCR, which makes the process lengthy thus far less efficient. This causes them to be categorized as illegal immigrants which violates the administration of immigrants as regulated in Law no. 6 of 2011 on Immigration.[4]

Refugees and asylum seekers have become an international issue. It is due to the reason that Indonesia becomes a haven for these people that the problem becomes a national issue.[5] The determination of the status of the refugees and asylum seekers towards the status of an immigrant is very important to be a priority in regards to prevent illegal immigrants entering and potentially causing a threat to national security. In consideration to this, the government should have ratified the Refugee Convention 1951 and Operational Protocol 1967 a long time ago. Based on Article 11 (2) of the 1945 Constitution and Article 25 (1) of Law no. 37 of 1999 states that the power to give asylum to foreigners lies in the President with the consideration from the Ministers and that the Refugee Convention should not give a negative impact to the people of Indonesia as well as the financial problem of the State in ratifying the convention to become a Presidential Regulation with the notification of the House of Respresentatives.[6] In ratifying the conventions stated, it is obvious that Indonesia will receive certain benefits as well such as reducing the probability of asylum seekers categorized as illegal immigrants which have committed an international crime with the addition of the power of the government in determining the legal status for the refugees as well as making it simple to make decisions regarding the problem. The international community will also help the government in giving aid in regards to the handling of the refugees and asylum seekers so that the government will not handle all the burden. Aside from that, in ratifying the Convention stated, it will increase the rank of Indonesia as a refugee and asylum seeker friendly state. Pancasila also stated the sila of just and civilized humanity and by giving aid to the refugees and asylum seekers, Indonesia implements the values of humanity stated. The government may be sued for restraining the needs of the refugees because Indonesia herself from year to year receives refugees from different neighboring states such as Myanmar as well as from Middle East as another example. If this is not taken into matter correctly, the asylum seekers and refugees will find themselves living in a hostile environment after leaving their state of origin.

The government should initiate the ratification of the Refugee Convention 1951 and Operational Protocol 1967 not only so that the refugees and asylum seekers coming to Indonesia are guaranteed protection but also due to the reason that there is a concrete national regulation regarding refugees and asylum seekers. The government will also have their burden lifted in the supervision and decision making to the matter at hand.

[1] Hukum Online “Indonesia Perlu Ratifikasi Konvensi tentang pengungsi” (Accessed on 13 March 2017 at 19.08)

[2] Ibid.

[3] CNN Indonesia “Amnesty : Warga Indonesia paling tak ramah kepada pengungsi” (Accessed on 14 March 2017 at 23.15)

[4] Hukum Online, Op.Cit

[5] Ibid.

[6] Pasal 9 ayat (2) UU No. 24 Tahun 2000 tentang Perjanjian Internasional


  1. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “The 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 Protocol”, diakses 13 Maret 2017.

  2. Sucahyo Danang, “Ratifikasi perjanjian Internasional menurut undang-undang”, diakses 14 maret 2017.

  3. “Indonesia dan Persimpangan Pengungsi” diakses 13 maret 2017

  4. CNN Indonesia “Amnesty : Warga Indonesia paling tak ramah kepada pengungsi” diakses 13 maret 2017


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