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Indonesia: Disability Rights Group Seeks New Law

(Apr. 28, 2014) On April 21, 2014, Fajri Nursyamsi, a researcher at Indonesia’s Legal and Policy Studies Center and a member of the Disability Draft Bill Working Group, said in a newspaper interview that advocacy groups would like to see Indonesia adopt a new law on disabilities. He stated, “[o]ne thing we want to highlight is that we want a disability protection law that adopts a totally different philosophy.” (Bambang Muyanto, Groups Seek New Disability Law, THE JAKARTA POST (Apr. 24, 2014).) He added, in reference to the existing 1997 law, which advocates see as ineffective,”[t]he current situation and condition is different from 17 years ago when the Law No. 4/1997 was created.” (Id.; UU 4/1997, Tentang Penyandang Cacat [Act Concerning Disabled People], No. 4 (1997), Parliamentary website; Act of the Republic of Indonesia Number 4, of 1997, Concerning Disabled People, DINF [Disability Information Resources]) (scroll down to locate text in Sec. B).)

According to Nursyamsi, the existing law is based on a charity model, but a revised law could be based on the rights of the disabled that “the state must fulfill as part of human rights protection.” (Muyanto, supra.) Indonesia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011. (Convention and Optional Protocol Signatures and Ratifications, ENABLE, (last visited Apr. 24, 2014); Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (adopted Dec. 13, 2006), A/RES/61/106, United Nations website.)

The Convention requires states to “ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.” (Convention, art. 4.) One of the means by which states are to ensure these rights is through the adoption of appropriate legislation. (Id.)

A two-day meeting for 35 community groups representing disabled persons and 15 other civil society organizations from throughout the island of Java was held in the city of Yogyarkata to discuss a draft revision of the law. According to Nursyamsi, these groups have the opportunity to provide input for a new law on the subject. (Muyanto, supra.) The Indonesian government’s National Legislation Program includes the amendment of the 1997 law on its list of legislative proposals. (DPR Tetapkan 66 RUU Prolegnas 2014 (Dec. 17, 2013), HUKUM ONLINE.COM [scroll down page to Daftar RUU Prioritas Legislasi Nasional DPR RI tahun 2014 [List of Priority Draft National Legislation for Parliament in 2014], No. 57, RUU Tentang Perubahan Atas UU No 4 Tahun 1997 Tentang Penyandang Cacat [Bill on Amendments to Law No. 4 of 1997 on Disabled People].])