• Press Release

G20 Summit in Indonesia held amid repression of civic space in host country

November 15, 2022

Photo Credit: Leon Neal
G20 leaders should use this year’s summit to uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, which have been under attack in the summit’s host country and around the world, Amnesty International Indonesia said today.

Member states must facilitate the right to freedom of peaceful assembly by ensuring people can protest during the November 15-16 summit in Bali, and to put pressure on Indonesia to end ongoing repression of civil liberties.

“G20 leaders must call on the Indonesian government to fulfill its obligations to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including by ensuring a safe and enabling environment for civil society to defend and promote human rights without fear of reprisals,” Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said.

“Indonesian authorities must also refrain from targeting or allowing any form of crackdown by state and non-state actors against peaceful criticism, including those directed at the G20. Security measures around the summit should not become a pretext to further shrink the civic space.”

The annual meeting of the world’s 20 biggest economies takes place this year in Indonesia amid ongoing suppression of peaceful dissenters and critical voices in the country, with incidents occurring in the lead-up to the summit.

In early November, Greenpeace Indonesia’s activists were subjected to acts of intimidation and threats during a cycling trip to Bali for a climate crisis campaign ahead of G20. Security personnel heavily monitored the activists’ movement and activities. Security personnel also forced Greenpeace to sign a statement saying that they will stop their activities and campaign during the G20 meeting, according to information obtained by Amnesty International Indonesia.

On November 12, 2022, local authorities in Bali dispersed an internal meeting held by members of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) in a villa in Sanur, Bali, citing a provincial policy that limits public events during the G20 Summit as a reason. Police personnel even attempted to check the phones and laptops belonging to YLBHI staff without warrant after entering the villa. Some of the staff members were blocked by local security guards from leaving the villa compound, while those who left in cars were tailed by people in motorcycles.

“These acts of intimidation against peaceful activists are impermissible attempts by the state to silence opinions, that are sadly becoming more common in Indonesia,” Usman said, “G20 member countries must ensure access for civil society to peacefully express their human rights concerns that should be seriously addressed by governments.”

In a recent report on Indonesia’s civil liberties, Amnesty International Indonesia documents how the space for civil society has shrunk within the last three years as a result of an ongoing assault on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, security of person, and freedom from arbitrary detention. The findings resonated with the results of a global monitoring by Amnesty International in 154 countries in 2021 which reveals that those fundamental freedoms are under “alarming repression worldwide.”

Between January 2019 and May 2022, Amnesty recorded at least 328 physical and digital attacks against civil society, including activists and human rights defenders, with at least 834 victims in Indonesia. Most of these attacks, of which the suspected perpetrators include both state and non-state actors, have not resulted in an accountability or redress.

Broad provisions restricting freedom of expression in Indonesia’a Electronic Information and Transactions (EIT) Law have increasingly been misused to criminalize critics against the government and those expressing opinions in social media. Amnesty recorded at least 316 instances of the EIT law being misused with a total of at least 332 victims between January 2019 and May 2022.

Police’s unlawful use of force during the handling of protests, including the misuse of teargas and physical violence, further repressed Indonesia’s civic space. Moreover, Amnesty also noted an increasing trend of attacks against activists and human rights defenders in Indonesia. Authorities often failed to investigate these attacks and bring the suspected perpetrators to justice.

“Indonesian authorities must also take effective steps to ensure that all attacks, acts of intimidation and threats against members of civil society are investigated promptly, thoroughly, impartially, independently and transparently to end impunity,” Usman said.