Jakarta. Violations of religious freedom declined in Indonesia last year, indicating that the country's efforts to promote tolerance are starting to pay off, the Setara Institute said on Monday (15/01).
The human rights group's "2017 Report on Religious Freedom and Religious Minorities in Indonesia" showed that the number of recorded violations decreased to 155 incidents last year, compared with 208 in 2016.
The report also showed that there were 201 recorded incidents of religious intolerance last year, compared with 270 in 2016.
Most incidents were reported in West Java and Jakarta, followed by Central Java, East Java and Banten.
Although the number of incidents is still relatively high, the Setara Institute said "the decline in religious freedom violations and acts of religious intolerance must be seen as progress."
The human rights group said the relatively high number of recorded violations shows that religious freedom has yet to be "ideally developed" in Indonesia. It added that this would include fair and strict law enforcement and civic awareness of the need to respect freedom of worship as a human right.
Furthermore, acts of intolerance perpetrated by state actors also declined significantly to 75 last year, compared with 140 in 2016. Most of these were committed by district governments, followed by the police and educational institutions.
"This data gives us hope that the state will fulfill its role and function as a duty bearer to respect, enforce and promote human rights, and not be a dominant actor in such violations," the Setara Institute said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.
Despite notable progress, the Setara Institute warned that the upcoming regional elections in June and general elections in 2019 may see the politicization of religious and social differences, which may negatively affect government efforts to promote tolerance and religious freedom for all citizens.