The Essex graduate upholding human rights in Indonesia

  • Date

    Wed 22 Feb 17

Roichatul Aswidah, picture courtesy of Parliamentarians for Global Action

A human rights reformer is the latest University of Essex graduate up for a 2017 British Council Alumni Award.

Roichatul Aswidah is being recognised for using her experience of studying in the UK to make a positive contribution to human rights in her native Indonesia.

She will find out if she’s won the prestigious Social Impact category of the Indonesian awards at a ceremony on 2 March where she will face fellow Essex graduate Ricky Gunawan in the British Council final.

Roichatul Aswidah, who graduated from Essex’s Human Rights Centrein 2006 with an MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights, is transforming human rights policy in Indonesia as one of just 13 members of the country’s National Commission on Human Rights.

Speaking about her time studying at Essex, Roichatul said: “The UK is a country with a long tradition of leading human rights thought, protection and promotion. At Essex many of my lecturers were involved in human rights work in the field, as UN special rapporteurs or in other UN bodies. This gave me the opportunity not only to study the theoretical background, but also experience putting theory into practice which greatly enriched my study.”

Roichatul Aswidah has been a member of the National Commission on Human Rights for the Republic of Indonesia since 2012 where she was Co-ordinator of the Sub-Commission for Assessment and Research (2012-2015) and is now Vice-Chair.

She is also a member of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy.

Most recently she has been involved in the commission for the punishment of sexual offenders ensuring this complies with Indonesia’s commitment to human rights. She has also supported the need for freedom of expression.

Dr Andrew Fagan of the Essex Human Rights Centre said: “Roi was a recipient of an Open Society Foundation Human Rights Scholarship, which enabled her to study at our Human Rights Centre. She has proceeded to a position where she makes a crucial contribution to upholding human rights standards and we are very proud of her.”

The British Council Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. The winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying in the UK to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries.

For the second year running Essex has punched above its weight, with its five finalists making it the highest-ranking non-Russell Group university based on number of finalists. The five 2017 Essex graduates are among 148 finalists, from more than 1,200 applications and representing 65 UK universities, attending ceremonies around the world.