Indonesia: compulsory reserve service?

On 16 August, the Jakarta Post reported on a new draft law on a national military reserve, which is presently being debated in the Indonesian parliament. It is not clear if this is in fact the same draft that had been presented in 2007 (see CO-Update No 34, November 2007). Back then, the proposed revision to the Reserve Forces Act (RUU Komponen Cadangan) put forward by the Department of Defence contained clauses that will make Army training or service compulsory (wajib militer, wamil) for all citizens aged 18-45.

According to article 7 of the bill put forward now, "every citizen between 18 and 45 years old is obliged to serve in the reserve army, and whoever refuses will be punished,” so Indonesian Human Rights Monitor program director Al Araf.

The reserve component bill stipulates that among efforts to maintain national security the government must establish a reserve army comprising civilian troops, similar to the Singapore Army Operational Reserve or United States National Guard.

The Defense Ministry says a reserve army is mandated under the Constitution and would enhance the capacity of the Indonesian Military to face military and non-military threats. Service in the reserve would be mandatory under the new law.

Al Araf said that the bill did not guarantee the right to reject conscription or compulsory military service based on beliefs, conscience or religion. Conscientious objection is protected under international law. “The bill only stipulates that mandatory service can be waived because of poor health or reasons other than conscientious objection,” Araf said.

Defense Ministry spokesman I Wayan Midhio said citizens’ service for the reserve army was different to military conscription.

Military conscription demands that every citizen does military service, while for this reserve we will select those fulfilling several requirements in a recruitment processes.

Sources: The Jakarta Post: Activists raise questions about military bill, 16 August 2010