COVID-19 Op-ed

Strengthening the Law on Protection of the Marginalized amid COVID-19

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Nukila Evantyvisiting lecture
at  Faculty of Law Mahendradatta University and Faculty of Law
University of Diponegoro; Country Director of RIGHTS

Indonesia is one of the countries that have laws that
stipulate that disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 virus, are
categorized as non-natural disasters (Law No. 24 of 2007) and are
strengthened by specific laws on Health Quarantine (Law No.6 of 2018) and the
Infectious Disease Outbreak Law (Law No. 4 of 1984). The infectious disease
epidemic law regulates compensation to control infectious disease outbreaks
(Article 8). Then, Government Regulation No. 40 of 1991 regarding outbreaks
of infectious diseases ensures that every person has the right to health
(Articles 4 and 5). Likewise, the Disaster Management Law (Law No. 24 of
2007) provides guaranteed protection at every stage of disasters;
pre-condition disaster, emergency response, and post-disaster follow-up.
Based on these Laws on Disaster Management, the government can declare the
COVID-19 pandemic as a particular circumstance disaster or an emergency
disaster. Therefore, all government levels at the national, regional, and
district levels have set policies and task forces relevant to overcoming the
COVID-19 pandemic.However, all of these laws fail to explicitly stipulate access
to and active participation of marginalized groups and set any set of
mechanisms for taking complaints during the handling of COVID-19 by the
government or relevant institutions. A report from the World Bank entitled
Indonesia Economic Prospects predicts that the Corona Pandemic (COVID-19) can
increase Indonesia’s poverty rate from 8.2 percent to 9 percent (16/7/2020).
Furthermore, a Social Demographic Survey of the Central Statistics Agency
(BPS) in June 2020 shows that the incomes of the poor, those vulnerable to
poverty, and informal workers have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic.The
Government has seemed to try to set every effort to target the handling of
this pandemic directly. Nevertheless, the government’s responses and
mitigation to those who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic
remain limited. Furthermore, social protection has not been fully regulated
during the pandemic; thus, the government will not fully compensate for the
losses and protect the rights of the marginalized people.In this regard, the
recommendations are to strengthen the substance of laws as follows: to make a
precise protection mechanism, understandable compensation mechanism for
marginalized groups, directives on strengthening data of the most affected at
least based on sex, age, and disability as data of program and advocacy.
Accordingly, the laws relating to the response to the outbreak  COVID-19
must attach human rights perspectives and vulnerability aspects. In
conclusion, civil society and academia are supposed to be more active in
providing concrete input on laws relating to handling non-natural disasters
and disease outbreaks. For example, these laws must provide inputs through
policy papers or academic papers to law-makers in their respective countries
to integrate marginalized groups’ experiences in the substance of the law and
to remind the government’s obligation that has ratified the international
human rights covenants.References:-Law
No.24/2007 concerning Disaster Management-Law No.6/2018 concerning Health
Quarantine-Law No.4/1984 concerning Communicable Disease Outbreaks-Government
Regulation No.40/1991 concerning Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases-The World
Bank, Indonesia Economic Prospects, July 2020: The long road to recovery,
available at,16
July 2020-BPS, Social Demographic Survey Result of Covid-19 Impact 2020,
available at
, 5 June 2020

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