The House of Representatives (DPR) passed the Bill on the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination on 28 October 2008. The bill has been in the process of being passed since 2005 when it first arose as a DPR Initiative. Indonesia already has a racial discrimination law, Law No. 29 of 1999, which is the enactment of Indonesia’s responsibilities and obligations as a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The premise of the bill is that everyone is born the same in the eyes of God and that everyone is equal before the law. Nevertheless, these aspirations now have a little more gravitas as they have been codified into law. The need for the codification is that all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination are contrary to the principles contained in Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The definition of what constitutes discrimination is broad and can be civil, political, economic, social, and cultural. Race and ethnicity are also defined. The point of eliminating discrimination is to promote and ensure harmony, peace, and security, among others. Discrimination is defined as any action that seeks to distinguish or differentiate individuals or makes exceptions for individuals. The bill and the Elucidations are silent on what impact this might have on any affirmative action programs that may arise in the future.
The bill also regulates hate speech and vilification in Article 4.
The supervision of the provisions of the bill is to be done by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM).
The bill provides for compensation claims in the event that a citizen has been discriminated against. The claim can be either as an individual or as a class action where there are multiple claimants. Claims are to be lodged at the District Court.
The criminal sanctions in the bill allow for terms of imprisonment of between 1 and 5 years and fines of between IDR 100 million and IDR 500 million. The penalties for corporations attract a premium of 1/3.
Once the bill enters into force all current racial and ethnic discrimination laws remain in place unless they contradict the provisions of this bill. If they do, then the provisions of the bill will prevail.
The bill will come into immediate force once it is enacted.