Carmel was born in London in 1925. She received a Bachelors degree in Economics in 1946 from the University of London. She met Suwondo (Bud) Budiardjo, an Indonesian Government official while working in Prague for the International Union of Students, and married and moved to Indonesia in 1951. After General Suharto seized power in 1965, her husband was imprisoned, spending 12 years in jail. She herself was imprisoned for 3 years, and was then expelled to England on her release in 1971.
Upon returning she founded Tapol (Tahanan Politik - political prisoner), to campaign for political prisoners in Indonesia. The organisation expanded its activities, and was prominent in getting out information on military activity and human rights violations in East Timor, and West Papua. The Tapol Bulletin was a major source of information about the human rights situation in Indonesia under the dictatorship. She is also the author of a number of books on human rights and politics in Indonesia. The organisation remains active, with Carmel still playing a very important part in its activities.
- Budiardjo, Carmel. "The Abuse of Human Rights in Indonesia" in W. A. Veenhoven ed. "Case studies on human rights and fundamental freedoms: a world survey", Volume 3. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976.
- Budiardjo, Carmel and Liem Soei Liong. The War against East Timor. London: Zed Books, 1984. ISBN 0-86232-228-6.
- Budiardjo, Carmel and Liem Soei Liong. West Papua: The Obliteration of a People. Rev. ed. Thornton Heath, UK: TAPOL, the Indonesian Human Rights Campaign, 1988.
- Budiardjo, Carmel. Surviving Indonesia's Gulag. London: Cassell, 1996. ISBN 0-304-33562-2.
- Budiardjo, "Surviving Indonesia's Gulag"
- Right livelihood award: 1985 - Carmel Budiardjo