CSO Meeting and Discussion with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Tuesday 10 April 2018

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver (Turkey) has visited Indonesia from 8 to 18 April 2018 to gather first-hand information on the country’s food and agriculture policies that affect peoples’ livelihoods. During this visit, the UN Special Rapporteur intends to focus on the efforts made by the Government in increasing food security and reducing malnutrition as well as the impact of business activities on the right to food while paying extra attention to the situation of women, children and populations living in rural areas and remote places. The Special Rapporteur said that the objective of her visit is to engage in a constructive dialogue with relevant stakeholders, to identify improvements as well as challenges and suggest recommendations to the Government and others.

From production to consumption, the food system in Indonesia is problematic. Food prices are high for middle and lower classes, especially those living in the rural parts or unprivileged parts of the cities. Malnutrition is an important issue, but also the industrial activities related to food production seriously affect food security and the right to food. In addition, the food industry causes pollution to rivers and land; especially the production of palm oil is the major threat to the environment. Ensuring food security requires action in multiple dimensions, including improving the governance of food systems; inclusive and responsible investments in agriculture and rural areas, in health and education; empowering small producers, and strengthening social protection mechanisms for risk reduction.

Last Tuesday (10/4), Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) had the opportunity to co-organize a CSOs meeting with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver in Jakarta, Indonesia. The meeting took place at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM RI). During this meeting, three civil society organizations, Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Association (KNTI), Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS) and Solidaritas Perempuan presented their main human rights and asked attention for a number of issues. The presentations were followed by an interactive dialogue session.

Several cases has been mentioned and reported to the UN Special Rapporteur concerning the the right to food in Indonesia. Currently, main issues involve, among others, food security, the accessibility, availability and adequacy of food, discrimination against peasant and other people working in rural areas as food producers, the realization of women’s right to food and the right to food in fisheries sector.

The Representative of IHCS raised the issue of many peasants being arrested by the Indonesian authorities lately on the basis of the Law 18/2013 on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction. Based on IHCS’ monitoring, there are at least 71 peasants now that go through a similar process throughout Indonesia. One specific case brought forward by IHCS is the case of Azhari. Azhari is a peasant in the forest and also a Chairman of the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI) of Merangin in Jambi province. He also was arrested by the Regional Police in Jambi Province on charges of offence against the Law on Prevention and Eradication of the Forest Destruction. IHCS claims that his arrest, and that of many others, constitutes a human rights violation.

KNTI has raised multiple issues during its presentation, including, among others, the underconsumption of fishery products per capita in comparison to ASEAN and the lack of tenure rights protection and recognition. Laws and policies mostly aim to boost tourism and insufficiently take into account the rights of tenures. Also, women working in the fishery sector are still unrecognized and domesticated in Fisher Protection Laws. Another issue is the legalization of ocean grabbing in Land Agency Regulation No. 17/2016 on the Coastal and Small Island Arrangement.

According to the Solidaritas Perempuan representative, women are not identified as subject of land rights and their specific situation is not considered. They are not recognized in policies and government programs and they are marginalized in decision-making processes. Laws related to food do not specifically and explicitly mention women as stakeholders. Women face inequality with regard to land control and ownership. They may only have the right to land ownership if the women in question is a widow or she receives a legacy from her parents. In Poso, 90% of the land is owned by men. In Ogan Ilir, South Sumatera, 84,3% of the land is owned by men.

After the meeting with CSOs in Jakarta, the UN Special Rapporteur and her OHCHR team visited several regions in Indonesia, including Palembang, Ambon and Yogyakarta. The UN Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference concerning her preliminary report on her last day visit to Indonesia on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018. Her final public report on the country visit will be presented at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019.

We hope that the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food is able to contribute to the realization of the right to food and the protection of people against the impact of large businesses in Indonesia.

The UN Special Rapporteur on health country visit to Indonesia and Indonesian CSOs Submission

As a reflection of Indonesia’s commitment to work closely with the UN Human Rights mechanisms, Indonesia, through the Permanent Mission of the Republic Indonesia in Geneva, Switzerland, has invited the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (UN SR on health) to visit Indonesia which has been scheduled to take place from 22 March to 3 April 2017.

It is definitely a great chance for Indonesia to have further constructive engagement with the UN SR on health, as well as to fulfil the State obligation to respect and to protect the right to health of its citizen. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur will consider issues related to the enjoyment of the right to health, including availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of health services, goods and facilities, as well as the underlying determinants of health in the country, including poverty and social exclusion.

The UN SR will be interested in addressing specific themes during his visit, especially within the framework of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Issues of focus for the visit will include universal health care coverage; maternal and children’s health; sexual and reproductive health; mental health; HIV/AIDS; and drug/substance use dependency. He will look into the situation of specific groups and populations, particularly those in situations of vulnerability, such as children, indigenous peoples, refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, and persons with disabilities.

During country missions, the UN SR conducts site visits to inter alia primary healthcare centres, hospitals, mental healthcare units in general healthcare facilities and psychiatric institutions, drug rehabilitation centres, prisons’ healthcare facilities, and primary and secondary schools. In addition, the UN SR spends time outside the capital city to better understand the enjoyment of the right to health throughout the country. While the Special Rapporteur invites and appreciates suggestions of places and locations to visit during his stay in the country, he has agreed to visit Padang and has expressed his interest to the authorities in visiting locations in Eastern Indonesia, in particular, Flores (Labuan Bajo) and West Papua.

In this regard, Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) Indonesia with its member of the Coalition and its network are very welcomed the visit of the UN SR in Indonesia. Therefore, we are aware, it is important to have further engagement and dialogue during his visit in Indonesia.

Profile of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health

The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr Dainius Pūras (Lithuania), is a medical doctor with notable expertise on mental health, child health, and public health policies. Mr Pūras is a Professor and the Head of the Centre for Child psychiatry social paediatrics at Vilnius University, and teaches at the Faculty of Medicine, Institute of International relations and political science and Faculty of Philosophy of Vilnius University, Lithuania. Mr. Pūras assumed his functions as the Special Rapporteur on the right to health on 1 August 2014, for a period of three years.

Pursuant to its resolution 6/29, the Human Rights Council reiterated that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur includes the following:

  1. Gather, request, receive and exchange information from all relevant sources, including Government, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, on the realisation of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as policies designed to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals;
  2. Develop a regular dialogue and discuss possible areas of cooperation with all relevant actors, including Governments, relevant United Nations bodies, specialised agencies and programmes, in particular, the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, as well as non-governmental organisations and international financial institutions;
  3. Report on the status, throughout the world, of the realisation of the right to health and on developments relating to this right, including on laws, policies and good practices most beneficial to its enjoyment and obstacles encountered domestically and internationally to its implementation;
  4. Make recommendations on appropriate measures that promote and protect the realisation of the right to health, with a view to supporting States’ efforts to enhance public health; and
  5. Submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council and an interim report to the General Assembly on its activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations.

By its resolution 33/9 of October 2016, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health for a further period of three years.

Indonesian CSOs Engagement 

The engagement of civil society is important thing that should be exist in the protection and promotion of human rights. It guaranteed by the international human rights standards as well as by legitimate laws in Indonesia, such as the Constitution, Human Rights Law (39/1999), and also the human rights instrument that ratified by Indonesian Government.

To support the visit of Special Rapporteur on Health, HRWG and some organizations conducted several meetings and discussion on the drafting the Submission of CSOs to the Special Rapporteur. It important to highlight some issues of health rights in Indonesia and giving direction for the SR to prioritizing crucial situations of health, especially related to the mandates of SR.

The report of Indonesian CSOs can be downloaded here: Final report_Laporan Kunjungan UN SR on Health visit to Indonesia