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Rights groups attack Indonesian treatment of disabled

Many are subjected to abuse that is tantamount to torture, they say

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Rights groups attack Indonesian treatment of disabled

Indonesian people with disabilities march to the presidential palace in Jakarta to demand their rights on the International Day of Disabled Persons on Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo: Konradus Epa/ucanews)

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Human rights groups have accused the Indonesian government of failing to pay serious attention to disabled people, who they say face various forms of discrimination including torture.

In a joint statement issued on Dec. 4, the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM), Human Rights Working Group and the Indonesian Mental Health Association said the government had not shown any significant commitment to helping people with disabilities.

The statement was issued to coincide with the International Day of Disabled Persons on Dec. 3.

Despite government claims that it is making people with disabilities a priority and appointing a disabled person as an adviser to President Joko Widodo, the rights groups said treatment meted to many disabled people placed in some government and privately run care centers was “inhumane.”

“Many disabled people endure inhumane treatment at these centers in forms of unhealthy living spaces as well as physical and psychological abuse amounting to torture,” they said, citing investigations by national and international rights groups.

About 30 million Indonesians suffer from mental and physical disabilities, according to government estimates, including nearly 19,000 who are shackled, rights groups say.

The Indonesian government ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through a law in 2011 as part of its commitment to promote and protect the human rights of disabled people.

However, the rights groups said some legal provisions and regulations are not conducive to this legislation.

"The government must harmonize all regulations and laws to ensure rights are protected and better treatment is provided," they said.

It must also follow this up with close monitoring to see laws are complied with, they added.

The groups also called for more job opportunities for physically disabled people in government institutions, and the removal of unnecessary requirements that effectively block them from having such jobs.

The Ministry of National Development Planning disputed the claims. The government is by no means neglecting disabled people, said Diani Sadiawati, a ministry spokeswoman.

However, she urged the rights groups to offer feedback so that the government can create regulations that can improve disabled people’s quality of life. “It is important for us to ensure they can have better service,” she said.

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