It was reported that the North Kerala region of India has seen two people die from the Nipah virus outbreak. Reportedly this Nipah virus has no vaccine, can be transmitted between humans through droplets, and is at risk of causing death. Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic case, as a layman I would like to ask, can Indonesia limit people from these countries to come to Indonesia? Of course for the purpose of prevention and control of these infectious diseases. Thank you for your attention and explanation.
Diseases caused by the Nipah virus can be categorized as infectious diseases, which are diseases that can be transmitted to humans caused by biological agents, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
In the event of an increase in disease transmission and/or risk factors for diseases that have the potential to cause outbreaks in other countries, the Ministry of Health must increase vigilance and take the necessary steps to prevent disease at the port of entry.
So, can the government prohibit foreign citizens or foreigners from entering Indonesian territory?
Please read the review below for a further explanation.
This article is the second update of the article entitled Can the Government Reject Foreign Travelers Coming from Communicable Disease Areas? Which was first published on Tuesday, 18 January 2020, and first updated by Arasy Pradana A. Azis, S.H., M.H. on Friday, 3 April 2020.
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Countermeasures for Infectious Diseases
Before answering the core of your question, we need to mention that the disease caused by the Nipah virus first appeared and became an outbreak in 1998 - 1999 in Malaysia to Singapore. From this outbreak, 276 cases with 106 deaths were reported. In 2023, the most recent outbreak was reported from January 4 to February 13 in Bangladesh with 11 cases.
Furthermore, it is true that the disease from Nipah virus, according to the Ministry of Health in the Nipah Virus Disease FAQ (p. 3) can be transmitted from human to human through contact with an infected person or their fluids such as droplets, urine, or blood.
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Based on the information above, we believe that the Nipah virus is an infectious disease and has been an epidemic in other countries.
According to Article 1 number 1 of Minister of Health Regulation 82/2014, communicable diseases are diseases that can be transmitted to humans caused by biological agents, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Based on the mode of transmission, infectious diseases are grouped into two, namely direct infectious diseases and vector-borne diseasesas well asdisease-carrying animals.
Regarding the prevention of infectious diseases originating from abroad, Article 361 Health Law regulates that in the event that the Minister of Health (“Minister”) receives information on the occurrence of increased transmission of diseases and/or risk factors of diseases that have the potential to cause an outbreak in other countries, the Minister must increase precautions and take the necessary measures in order to prevent disease at entry points.
In the event that an outbreak has spread across various countries, the Minister shall issue a regulation on supervisory management and/or countermeasures against transportation means coming from or to foreign countries in accordance with the characteristics of the cause/agent of the disease and the mode of transmission, including the possibility of restriction on the mobility of people and goods at entry points.
In addition, in order to prevent disease at the entrance, the Minister may recommend the closure of entry points to the President. Moreover, what is meant by a State Entry Point, from this point onwards is referred to as entry point, is the place of entry and exit of means of transportation, people and/or goods to and from abroad, whether in the form of a seaport, airport or cross-border post.
Furthermore, to detect these infectious diseases, Article 2 Minister of Law and Human Rights Regulation 33/2018 stipulates that the government is obliged to prevent and/or overcome crimes of terrorism, trafficking in persons, narcotics trafficking, and the spread of dangerous infectious diseases through immigration control of people's traffic at immigration checkpoints at airports, cross-border posts, and seaports.
Immigration control through airports is carried out by implementing an immigration control system, in the form of the Civil Aviation Security and International Passenger Security Services ("CAIPSS") technology system. The use of the CAIPSS system is carried out on the traffic of every person leaving and entering Indonesian territory.
Regulations on the Refusal of Foreigners from Nipah Virus-Affected Countries to Enter Indonesia
So, what is the legal basis for prohibiting or restricting foreign nationals/foreign citizens ("foreigners") from countries infected with the Nipah virus from coming to Indonesia? The Health Law explains that in principle, in the event that diseases and/or risk factors of disease are discovered which have the potential to cause an outbreak at entry points or at ports and airports serving domestic traffic, immediate countermeasures shall be undertaken.
Such countermeasures shall be conducted in accordance with the type of disease agent and its spread, which can be:
screening, referral, isolation or quarantine, immunization, prophylaxis, disinfection, and/or decontamination of persons in accordance with indications;
disinfection, decontamination, disinsection, and/or deratization of transportation means and goods; and/or
In the event that there are people who are not willing to take countermeasures, the Minister is authorized to recommend airlines, shipping agents, or land vehicles to postpone departure or issue recommendations to immigration officials for rejection.
Moreover, according to Article 1 section (1) Immigration Law, the rejection of foreigners entering Indonesian territory is carried out when:
are included in the Entry Ban list;
do not have a legal and valid Travel Document;
have a false Immigration document;
do not have a Visa, unless they are exempted from the obligation to have a Visa;
provided false statement when applying for a Visa;
suffer from a contagious or infectious disease harmful to public health;
are involved in any international crime and transnational organized crime;
are included in a wanted person list to arrest of a foreign country;
are involved in any insurgency against the Government of the Republic of Indonesia; or
are affiliated with any network of prostitution, human trafficking, and people smuggling activities or practices
For people with infectious diseases, the rejection of foreigners is based on a request letter from the authorized agency, namely the Ministry of Health. Foreign citizens who were rejected from entering the territory shall be supervised while waiting for the removal process.
Then, what is meant by “placed under supervision” is the placement of foreigners in the Immigration Detention House or Immigration Detention Room or special rooms in order to await their departure from the Indonesian Territory. In the event that the foreigners arrive in ships, they shall be placed in said ships and are prohibited from going ashore as long as the ships are in the Indonesian Territory until they leave the Indonesian Territory.
Immigration officials may place a foreigner in another place if the foreigner is sick, about to give birth, or is a child. What is meant by "other places", for example, hospitals or accommodation places that are easily supervised by immigration officials.
Thus, answering your question, in the context of prevention and control of infectious diseases, the government can prohibit or restrict the entry of foreigners through restrictions on the mobility of people and goods at the entrance or closing the entrance to Indonesia. The preventive measures are based on assessments and conditions as stipulated in laws and regulations.
If foreigners entering Indonesia are infected with diseases caused by the Nipah virus, then first of all, countermeasures such as screening, isolation or quarantine, and so on are carried out. If the foreigner refuses the countermeasures, the Ministry of Health can issue a recommendation for rejection of entry into Indonesia to immigration officials.
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These are the answers we can provide, we hope you will find them useful.