Odious Debts

Indonesia’s odious debts

March 8, 2001

Probe International’s Patricia Adams called to Indonesia to talk odious debts.


Probe International’s Executive Director, Patricia Adams, flew to Indonesia in late February to address a seminar on the country’s odious debts, a legacy of the corrupt Suharto regime. After the seminar, widely attended by citizens groups, anti-corruption activists, human rights advocates, press, Indonesian parliamentarians, and government officials, Ms. Adams was invited to meet with Indonesia’s President Abdurrahman Wahid to discuss the concept of odious debts and why she believes Indonesia’s debts are odious and what actions the current Indonesian government can take.

The international legal doctrine of odious debts – defined as government debts that are not used in the interests of the state – is essential to today’s Third World debt negotiations because it shifts responsibility back to lenders who, for 50 years, have lent money to corrupt dictators, many of whom pocketed the funds or used the money to arm themselves against the people. According to the doctrine of odious debts, such lenders have committed a hostile act against the people and lose their right to claim repayment. Former Indonesian president Suharto and his cronies are widely recognized as having pocketed as much as 30 per cent of various government loans from such institutions as the World Bank. The current Indonesian government is conducting investigations into cases of corruption.

“The concept of odious debt and its relevance to Indonesia” speech given by Patricia Adams

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Categories: Odious Debts

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