Indri Saptaningrum

PhD at the Law School at the University of NSW (Australia)

Formerly the Executive Director of ELSAM

DTP Trainer and Alumna: Attended 2002 12th Annual Program - Sri Lanka as a participant


Indri participated in DTP’s 12th Annual Regional Human Rights and Peoples’ Diplomacy Training Program in Sri Lanka in 2002. She came back to lead a session as a trainer on its 2011 regional program on human rights and business held in Jakarta. Now based in Sydney and starting her PhD at UNSW, Indri is helping DTP with strategic advice in relation to its regional capacity building work on human rights and business – and was a special guest at a recent lunch with the DTP Advisory Council Members Hon Michael Kirby and Hon Elizabeth Evatt.


"The DTP course was my first introduction to international human rights standards and the UN human rights system – to international human rights diplomacy. I was able to use the training in my work with ELSAM – and then when I went to Geneva to present an alternate report on torture in Indonesia to the UN Committee Against Torture.”

I worked with ELSAM from 2001 to 2014, starting as program officer and appointed Executive Director in 2010, but stepped down in 2015 to begin my PhD at the UNSW Law Faculty. My thesis is called ‘From Government to Governance: The Politics of Indonesia’s Digital Content Policies post- 2008.

ELSAM, was established in 1993 by a group of human rights defenders, some of whom are still active members of ELSAM (it is a limited association comprised of 19 members, including myself). Initially it worked on promoting the adoption of human rights instruments in the national law, either through ratification or in the law-making process.

ELSAM’S works includes advocacy on the inclusion of human rights in development policy (for example, challenging the big dam projects supported by the World Bank in 1994-1995), the campaign on the ratification of the Convention against Torture (2006-2008), and human rights investigation and reporting. ELSAM was active in raising human rights abuses in Timor Leste. Since 1998, after President Soeharto was toppled, ELSAM has been actively involved in promoting accountability for past abuses, both through the human rights court monitoring program and a truth and reconciliation commission.

ELSAM has continued to work on the area of transitional justice, either through supporting victims’ groups in documenting their narratives, or providing policy recommendations to the government so that core international human rights principles related to victims’ rights and transitional justice initiatives will be mainstreamed in Government policy.

ELSAM has provided training to lawyers working for human rights and on public interest litigation across Indonesia – through intensive national level four week programs and works closely with other Indonesian human rights NGOs. It has also developed and implemented capacity building programs across Indonesia. ELSAM has continued to nominate its staff to participate in DTP’s regional capacity building programs.

Since 2007, ELSAM has intensified its work on the litigation of cases related to Indigenous peoples’ rights to land, concerning the large-scale land acquisitions by companies, particularly in oil palm plantations. This work had a focus on the impacts of businesses on human rights. After the issuance of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ELSAM has extended its work to also mainstream the standards into policy reform, such as through joint initiatives with KOMNAS Ham (the Indonesian Human Rights Commission) to promote the adoption of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights. This is a joint initiative with UN Global Compact Network Indonesia to establish human rights working group within the GC Network to further raise awareness among its business members on the need to adopt the UN Guiding Principles within their internal policy.

Aside from that, with the rapid development of the internet and digital activism, ELSAM has played a key role in providing inputs for policy on freedom of expression on the net, together with other NGOs since 2013. ELSAM was DTP’s Indonesian partner for its most recent regional capacity building program focussed on the rights of Indigenous peoples, human rights and business. 


Profile written June 2016