Freedom in the World 2023 - Indonesia

/ 100
Political Rights 30 / 40
Civil Liberties 28 / 60
59 / 100 Partly Free
Global freedom statuses are calculated on a weighted scale. See the methodology.


Indonesia has made impressive democratic gains since the fall of an authoritarian regime in 1998, enjoying significant political and media pluralism and undergoing multiple, peaceful transfers of power. Significant challenges persist, including systemic corruption, discrimination and violence against minority groups, conflict in Papua, and the politicized use of defamation and blasphemy laws.

Key Developments in 2022

  • In April, the parliament passed a bill meant to combat sexual violence; it criminalizes sexual harassment, forced contraception and sterilization, forced marriage, sexual torture, slavery and exploitation, and online sexual violence.
  • In a June vote, the parliament approved the creation of three new provinces in the Papua region, making for a total of five; the new borders were inaugurated in November. Papuans criticized the change, saying it would further marginalize the region’s Indigenous residents.
  • The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested two Supreme Court judges for allegedly accepting bribes over a case being heard at that court. Sudrajad Dimyati was arrested in September and Gazalba Saleh was arrested in December.
  • In December, the parliament approved a new criminal code, which restricts insults directed at government institutions, expands restrictions on blasphemy, and criminalizes cohabitation of unmarried people, among other things. It will take effect after receiving the president’s signature and a subsequent three-year transition period.

Political Rights

A Electoral Process

A1 0-4 pts
Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections? 4 / 4

The directly elected president serves as both head of state and head of government. Presidents and vice presidents can serve up to two five-year terms. Joko Widodo (known as “Jokowi”), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) candidate, won a second term as president in the April 2019 election with 55.5 percent of the vote, defeating former general Prabowo Subianto, the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) candidate.

Limited voting irregularities were reported, but the contest was largely considered free and fair by international election monitors. Prabowo’s campaign claimed the election was marred by widespread fraud and vote rigging, but this claim was rejected by the Constitutional Court that June. Jokowi appointed Prabowo as his defense minister.

A2 0-4 pts
Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? 4 / 4

The House of Representatives (DPR), the main parliamentary chamber, consists of 575 members elected in 34 multimember districts. The 136-member House of Regional Representatives (DPD) is responsible for monitoring laws related to regional autonomy and may propose bills on the topic. All legislators serve five-year terms with no term limits.

Legislative elections were held concurrently with the presidential and local contests in April 2019. The PDI-P, led by former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, won 19.3 percent of the vote and 128 seats. Golkar, the party of former authoritarian president Suharto, won 85 seats on 12.3 percent, followed by Gerindra with 78 seats and 12.6 percent. Partai NasDem won 59 seats, while the Democratic Party (PD) of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won 54.

Two Islamic parties—the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the United Development Party (PPP)—lost seats from the last parliament, returning with 44 and 19 seats, respectively. Two other Islamic parties, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), increased their representation, respectively winning 58 and 50 seats.

A3 0-4 pts
Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies? 3 / 4

The legal framework for elections is largely democratic, and electoral authorities are mostly seen as impartial. Under a 2012 law, the hereditary sultan of Yogyakarta is that province’s unelected governor.

A 2016 revision to the law governing local elections requires the Election Oversight Agency and the General Elections Commission to conduct a binding consultation with the parliament and the government before issuing any new regulations or decisions. Activists expressed concerns that the rules would reduce electoral authorities’ independence.

B Political Pluralism and Participation

B1 0-4 pts
Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings? 4 / 4

The right to organize political parties is respected, and several major parties compete for power. Four new parties contested the 2019 elections.

Eligibility requirements favor large parties. The 2017 General Elections Law (UU PU) requires new parties to undergo a “factual verification” process confirming the accuracy of submitted documents on parties’ management, membership, and operations.

Communist parties are banned. The promotion of communism is banned under the criminal code passed in December 2022.

B2 0-4 pts
Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections? 4 / 4

Indonesia has established a pattern of democratic power transfers between rival parties since 1999. The most recent handover occurred in 2014, when the PDI-P returned to power after losing the previous two presidential elections. The UU PU requires parties or coalitions fielding presidential candidates to hold 20 percent of the seats in the parliament or 25 percent of the national vote in the most recent parliamentary election. The provision effectively bars new or smaller parties from fielding candidates in the presidential race.

B3 0-4 pts
Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means? 3 / 4

While voters and candidates are generally free from undue interference, the military remains influential, with former commanders playing prominent roles in politics. Intimidation by nonstate actors—including Islamist groups—remains a problem, as is the growing use of online propaganda in political campaigns.

B4 0-4 pts
Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities? 2 / 4

Women enjoy full political rights, and political parties are subject to 30 percent gender quotas for steering committees and candidates. However, women remain underrepresented in electoral politics, holding 21.6 percent of the DPR’s seats, though they do sometimes win leadership positions. Puan Maharani, daughter of former president Megawati and granddaughter of former president Sukarno, became the first female DPR speaker in 2019.

Ethnic Chinese are poorly represented in politics and often abstain from voting. Two parties with ethnic Chinese leaders, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and United Indonesian Party (Perindo), contested the April 2019 elections; neither exceeded the 4-percent parliamentary threshold for seats.

Some local governments have discriminated against religious minorities by restricting access to identification cards, birth certificates, marriage licenses, and other bureaucratic necessities, limiting their political rights and electoral opportunities.

LGBT+ people are poorly represented in electoral politics.

C Functioning of Government

C1 0-4 pts
Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government? 3 / 4

Elected officials generally determine government policies, though national authorities have faced difficulties in implementing their decisions due to local-level resistance. Observers have warned that the military is regaining its influence over civilian governance and economic affairs. These concerns increased following the COVID-19 pandemic, as generals headed both the National Task Force for COVID-19 Management and the Ministry of Health.

C2 0-4 pts
Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective? 1 / 4

Corruption remains endemic in the national and local legislatures, civil service, judiciary, and police. The most common offenses are embezzlement, bribery, and extortion. Acrimony between rival agencies—particularly the KPK and the National Police—has hindered anticorruption efforts, and civilian investigators have no jurisdiction over the military. In 2019, the parliament passed legislation weakening the KPK, requiring all employees to join the civil service and investigators to be from the National Police.

In September 2022, the Law and Human Rights Ministry paroled 23 people convicted of graft in a decision criticized by activists and the KPK.

Also in September, the KPK arrested Supreme Court justice Sudrajad Dimyati—who allegedly accepted bribes over a case being heard by that court—along with a clerk and eight other individuals. In December, the KPK arrested Supreme Court justice Gazalba Saleh for his alleged involvement in the affair.

C3 0-4 pts
Does the government operate with openness and transparency? 2 / 4

Although civil society groups comment on and influence pending policies or legislation, government transparency is limited by broad exemptions in the freedom of information law and obstacles such as a 2011 law criminalizing leaking vaguely defined “state secrets” to the public.

Civil Liberties

D Freedom of Expression and Belief

D1 0-4 pts
Are there free and independent media? 3 / 4

Indonesia hosts a vibrant and diverse media environment, though legal and regulatory restrictions hamper press freedom. The 2008 Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (UU ITE) extended libel to online media. It also criminalized distribution or accessibility of information or documents “contrary to the moral norms of Indonesia,” or involving gambling, blackmail, or defamation. Journalists carrying out legitimate reporting have been arrested under the UU ITE.

Foreign journalists visiting the Papua region face bureaucratic obstacles and deportation. Internet blackouts during protests as well as self-censorship have inhibited press activity. Journalists covering sensitive subjects, including LGBT+ issues, organized crime, sexual assault, and corruption, face harassment, violence, and threats. In March 2022, a student-run publication was shuttered by the State Islamic Institute in Ambon after it reported on sexual violence on campus. Two student journalists were physically assaulted on campus by men claiming to be relatives of an accused perpetrator.

A 2020 directive allowed for up to 18 months’ imprisonment for “hostile information about the president and government” or coronavirus-related disinformation. In a 2022 report, Amnesty International Indonesia found that attacks against journalists where police officers were the alleged perpetrators increased in subsequent years.

Journalists regularly face physical and digital attack. Amnesty International Indonesia documented 133 such incidents against 225 journalists and outlets between January 2019 and May 2022.

D2 0-4 pts
Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private? 1 / 4

Indonesia officially recognizes Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Individuals may leave the “religion” section on their identity cards blank, but those who do—including adherents of unrecognized faiths—often face discrimination. Atheism is not accepted legally. The criminal code passed in December 2022 prohibits blasphemy; those who “incite” someone to convert or refrain from religious adherence would face imprisonment.

National and local governments often fail to protect religious minorities and exhibit bias in investigations and prosecutions. Building a new house of worship requires signatures of 90 congregation members and 60 local residents of different faiths. As of 2022, the government was still reconsidering the 2006 Joint Ministerial Decision on houses of worship, which has been cited as a driver of religious conflict.

Violence and intimidation against Ahmadi and Shiite communities persists. In 2021, an Ahmadiyya mosque in West Kalimantan was destroyed by a mob. In January 2022, 21 people received four-and-a-half-month prison sentences over its destruction, leaving prison two weeks after sentencing for time served.

D3 0-4 pts
Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination? 2 / 4

Threats to academic freedom have increased in recent years. Hard-line groups and others are known to threaten discussions on LGBT+ matters, interfaith issues, Papua, police violence, and the 1965–66 anticommunist massacres. Academics have been charged with defamation and removed from their posts for criticism of public officials.

Public academic discussions regarding Papua have been canceled and organizers surveilled and threatened. Students, student union leaders, and others involved in Papua-related campus protests continue to face intimidation, arrest, and treason charges, with authorities linking protests to secessionist movements.

University rectors have reported pressure from the Education Ministry to curb student protests. The education minister’s vote accounts for 35 percent of the total vote share in the election of university rectors, making selection dependent upon their relationship with the ministry.

A 2021 presidential regulation declared that Indonesia’s national philosophical ideology, Pancasila, would guide research and innovation policy. Academics fear authorities could use this decree to prohibit research deemed incompatible with Pancasila.

D4 0-4 pts
Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution? 3 / 4

Laws against blasphemy, defamation, and certain other forms of speech sometimes inhibit expression of personal views on sensitive topics, especially online. Amnesty International Indonesia reported that the UU ITE was used against at least 332 people between January 2019 and May 2022. Under the criminal code passed in December 2022, those who insult government institutions verbally or in writing would face imprisonment or fines. The new code would also prohibit public attacks on the “honor or dignity” of the president or vice president, including through technological means.

In 2020, the National Police issued instructions to surveil activists online and engage in creating progovernment counternarratives. The 2021 creation of the Virtual Police unit within the National Police has reportedly led to self-censorship.

Ministerial Regulation 5 (MR5) requires private digital services and platforms to register with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology or risk being blocked. Critics allege that MR5 poses privacy and freedom-of-speech risks and provides a tool for government to censor legitimate speech by placing undue burdens on platforms and services.

Civil servants are subject to restrictions on online activity. A government task force reviews “radical” social media comments from civil servants, including perceived insults or criticisms of Pancasila, the state motto, the constitution, or the government. Civil servants cannot join organizations deemed to insult the country’s governing principles.

The government is known to surveil and detain individuals who discuss separatism in Maluku or Papua or fly the Papuan Morning Star or the Republic of South Maluku flag. In August 2022, seven people were convicted of treason for raising the Morning Star and received 10-month prison terms.

E Associational and Organizational Rights

E1 0-4 pts
Is there freedom of assembly? 2 / 4

Protests are common and freedom of assembly is generally upheld, but recent years have seen increasing use of protest-related internet disruptions. Assemblies addressing sensitive political topics—such as the 1965–66 massacres or regional separatism—are regularly dispersed, with participants facing intimidation or violence from vigilantes or police.

Freedom of assembly in Papua is increasingly restricted. Authorities used sometimes-deadly violence in response to protesters objecting to the creation of new provinces in the region in 2022.

E2 0-4 pts
Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work? 2 / 4

A 2013 law requires nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to register with the government and submit to regular reviews of their activities. The law targets NGOs that commit blasphemy or espouse ideas conflicting with Pancasila, such as atheism and communism. The government can dissolve noncompliant organizations without judicial oversight.

Authorities and influential Muslim organizations continue to intimidate and harass LGBT+ communities, organizations, and activists, hampering groups seeking to provide services to LGBT+ people.

Activists working to address human rights violations in Papua and expose endemic corruption are often targeted by authorities or progovernment supporters. In March 2022, human rights activists Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti were formally charged with defaming government minister Luhut Pandjaitan under the UU ITE. The charges stemmed from a 2021 YouTube video in which Azhar and Maulidiyanti discussed the military’s involvement in mining activity in Papua.

E3 0-4 pts
Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations? 2 / 4

Workers can join unions, bargain collectively, and, with the exception of civil servants, stage strikes. Strikes can be unduly delayed by obligatory arbitration processes, and laws against antiunion discrimination and retaliation are poorly enforced. Under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2018, the military can assist police in dealing with strikes and demonstrations.

The 2020 omnibus law abolished sectoral minimum wages and limits unions’ negotiating power, with wages set by geography. The law, which was formulated without union consultation, extends outsourcing and reduced the number of statutory days off.

F Rule of Law

F1 0-4 pts
Is there an independent judiciary? 2 / 4

The judiciary has demonstrated its independence in some cases, particularly in the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court. However, the court system remains plagued by corruption and other weaknesses. Judicial decisions can be influenced by religious considerations.

Indonesia’s Human Rights Court heard its first case since 2004 in 2022, in which a retired military officer was accused of unlawfully killing Papuan protesters in 2014. The defendant was acquitted in December 2022. Some observers considered the judges’ performance promising, though the lawyer representing victims’ families voiced distrust over the trial.

F2 0-4 pts
Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters? 1 / 4

Police reportedly engage in arbitrary arrests and detentions, particularly of protesters or activists suspected of separatism. Existing safeguards against coerced confessions are ineffective, and defendants are sometimes denied proper access to legal counsel, including in death penalty cases.

In 2021, the government began designating Papuan separatists as terrorists under the 2018 antiterrorism law; such individuals had previously faced treason charges under the criminal code. Activists criticized the move, warning it would allow the authorities to hold people without charge for long periods.

Aceh Province uses Sharia (Islamic law) to guide punishments and regulations. A number of districts and provinces additionally have unconstitutional Sharia-based ordinances that contradict Indonesia’s international human rights commitments.

F3 0-4 pts
Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies? 1 / 4

Deadly confrontations involving security forces remain common in the Papua region, and have increased in geographic scope, intensity, and frequency since 2018. In 2021, the government designated “armed criminal groups” as terrorist organizations, granting law enforcement greater detention powers and more resources. Military operations intensified that year, after the death of a brigadier general in Papua’s Central Highlands. Security forces have been implicated in torture and extrajudicial killings; six soldiers were accused of killing and mutilating four Indigenous residents of the Papua region in August 2022. Separatists have also targeted security forces and civilians at higher rates.

Military personnel accused of crimes against civilians are tried in military courts, which lack impartiality and often impose light punishments, even for serious human rights violations. Torture by law enforcement agencies is not explicitly criminalized.

Prisons are overcrowded and corrupt, leading to riots, protests, fires, and jailbreaks. Violence related to natural resource extraction remains a problem.

In Aceh, regulations under Sharia permit provincial authorities to use caning as punishment for offenses related to gambling, alcohol consumption, and illicit sexual activity.

F4 0-4 pts
Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population? 1 / 4

Papuans face racial discrimination, including from authorities and political parties.

Some national laws and numerous local ordinances discriminate against women either explicitly or in effect. LGBT+ people suffer from widespread discrimination, inflammatory and discriminatory rhetoric from authorities, and attacks by hard-line Islamist groups. Ethnic Chinese, who make up approximately 1 percent of the population, are vulnerable to harassment.

Indonesia grants temporary protection to refugees and migrants but is not party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and does not accept refugees for asylum and resettlement. However, 13,700 registered refugees and asylum seekers resided there as of 2022, most of them seeking to travel to their ultimate destination. Those in transit have limited access to health-care services and none for the formal labor market. While the Indonesian government recognizes the principle of nonrefoulement, these individuals are at risk of deportation in practice.

G Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights

G1 0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education? 2 / 4

Freedoms to travel and change one’s place of residence, employment, or higher education are generally respected. However, Indonesians engaging in these administrative processes are sometimes vulnerable to bribery. Papuans have additionally faced restrictions on movement from security forces; residents in Intan Jaya Regency reported that they must ask security officers’ permission to move about, are questioned about their movements, and are subjected to checks.

In March 2022, UN experts expressed concern over ongoing violence and internal displacement in the Papua region. Some 5,000 Indigenous Papuans were displaced between April and November 2021 according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The OHCHR also counted at least 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) since December 2018. IDPs often flee without their identity cards, leaving them without access to services.

Score Change: The score declined from 3 to 2 due to increases in the forced displacement of Indigenous Papuans, as well as restrictions on movement for civilians in the Papua region related to escalating armed conflict.

G2 0-4 pts
Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors? 2 / 4

Despite a robust private sector, corruption hampers business activity. Property rights are threatened by state appropriation and licensing of communally owned land to companies, particularly impacting Indigenous communities and others with unregistered or customary land rights. Women have relatively poor rights to marital property. Ethnic Chinese in Yogyakarta face restrictions on private property ownership under a 1975 decree contravening national laws.

G3 0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance? 2 / 4

Abortion is illegal except as life-saving treatment or in instances of rape. Adults over the age of 15 must have corroboration and witnesses to bring rape charges.

In April 2022, the parliament passed a sexual violence bill, which criminalizes sexual harassment, forced contraception and sterilization, forced marriage, sexual torture, slavery and exploitation, and online sexual violence.

The criminal code approved by the parliament in December 2022 prohibits cohabitation of unmarried people as well as consensual extramarital sex; Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that millions of couples who lack marriage certificates would run afoul of the new code. The criminal code also prohibits the dissemination of information on contraception to minors.

The minimum age for marriage is set at 19. Marriages must be conducted under the supervision of a recognized religion, which obstructs interfaith marriages.

Local Sharia-based ordinances in many districts impose restrictions on dress, gambling, alcohol use, and sexual activity; these ordinances are disproportionately enforced against women and LGBT+ people. Public displays of affection are banned in Aceh Province under Sharia-based regulations.

G4 0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation? 2 / 4

Authorities set standards for working conditions and compensation, but enforcement is inconsistent. Indonesian workers are trafficked domestically and abroad, including women in domestic service and men in the fishing industry. In January 2022, authorities in North Sumatra discovered a cage used to detain workers on a plantation operated by a local regent.