Those in Iraq and Syria not facing charges should be allowed to return

Responding to the decision by the Indonesian government on the fate of Indonesian Nationals in Iraq and Syria, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“The international community must take steps to ensure that all those reasonably suspected of committing crimes under international law are brought to justice through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, and that those who are not promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence and tried fairly are released.”

“Everyone with Indonesian citizenship not facing charges before a competent and fair tribunal should be allowed to return to Indonesia.”

“The Indonesian government should exercise universal jurisdiction over any person returning who faces credible allegations of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law. Where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a Indonesian citizen has been trafficked, the Indonesian government should take special steps to facilitate their return.”

“The Indonesian government must take reasonable steps to repatriate Indonesian national children were doing so is in the child’s best interest.”


According to media reports, there are more than 600 Indonesians, many of them minors, currently residing in Syria.

President Jokowi and several cabinet ministries, including Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, held a closed-door meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday 11 February 2020 afternoon.

The Government announced that the Indonesian nationals in Iraq and Syria should not return to the country, with Minister Mahfud MD calling them “threats” and “viruses” for millions of people in Indonesia.

International human rights law guarantees the right to nationality and prohibits its arbitrary deprivation, especially when it would result in statelessness. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Indonesia is a party, protects specifically the rights of children, including their right to citizenship, and stipulates that all actions that impact them should be decided based on their best interest.

Article 28D paragraph 1 of the Indonesian Constitution guarantees the right to legal guarantees and equal treatment before the law. Further, paragraph 4 of the article provides that everyone has the right to citizenship.