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UNICEF calls for the protection of children involved in Indonesia’s protests


Amid student demonstrations taking place across Indonesia, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) calls on all parties to protect children against violence and uphold their rights to express themselves in a safe environment, free from violence and intimidation, according to national and international legislation.

In recent days, children have been caught up in the violence and there are credible reports that some children have been arrested and held for longer than 24 hours.

“We must remain vigilant in upholding and protecting children’s rights at all times,” said UNICEF Representative Debora Comini. “Children and young people in Indonesia have the right to express themselves and engage in dialogue on issues that affect them, and we must ensure they receive timely and appropriate support if they come into contact with the law.”

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the rights of children to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly. In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Indonesia’s Child Protection Act guarantees the rights of every child in Indonesia to speak and have his/her opinion listened to, including in political matters, while also protecting them from misuse in political activities, and social unrest.

“The protests remind us of the need to create meaningful opportunities – online and offline – for children and youth to express their views freely and peacefully in Indonesia,” said Comini.

UNICEF calls attention to special provisions for children within Indonesia’s criminal justice system when children who are involved in protests come in contact with the law. Indonesia’s Juvenile Justice Law stipulates that deprivation of liberty and imprisonment are a last resort. Arrest of a child under 18 should be for a maximum period of 24 hours, and every child has the right to be:

  • Kept separate from adults;
  • Provided with legal and other assistance;  
  • Protected from torture, cruel punishment or treatment, and degrading or demeaning treatment; and
  • Spared arrest, detainment or imprisonment, to receive justice from an objective and impartial juvenile court, and to receive support from family members.


The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.  Indonesia has demonstrated a strong commitment to children’s rights since becoming a signatory to the Convention twenty-nine years ago. Indonesia has made great progress in the fulfilment of children’s rights with notable reforms such as the Child Protection Act (2002) and the Juvenile Justice Act (2014), which are bringing about increased protection for Indonesia’s children.

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