OPEN LETTER TO THE AUTHORITIES - THE OBSERVATORY
Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Geneva-Paris, November 10, 2009
Re: Concern over the criminal proceedings against Indonesian human rights defender Mr. Usman Hamid
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), expresses its deep concern over the criminal proceedings against Mr. Usman Hamid, Coordinator of the Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), and demands that all charges against him be dropped.
Mr. Usman Hamid is subjected to criminal proceedings because of his involvement in the campaign for justice for his late colleague, Mr. Munir Said Thalib, murdered by poisoning on September 7, 2004.
In December 2004, you had appointed Mr. Usman Hamid to the independent fact-finding team you had set up to investigate Mr. Munir Said Thalib’s murder. On December 31, 2008, Mr. Muchdi Purwopranjono, a former Deputy Chief of Indonesia’s National Intelligence Agency (BIN), was acquitted due to a lack of evidence regarding charges of “planning and “assistance in the murder”. His trial was however criticised by local and international human rights organisations as violating international standards of fairness and due process.
Following his acquittal, Mr. Muchdi Purwoprandjono announced that he would file a criminal defamation suit against Mr. Usman Hamid and three other human rights defenders, including Mr. Munir Said Thalib’s widow, Ms. Suciwati Munir, who gave her testimony during the trial.
However, to this date, Mr. Muchdi Purwoprandjono only filed a complaint with the police concerning Mr. Usman Hamid, allegedly because he criticised the verdict outside the court and asserted that Mr. Muchdi Purwoprandjono was a murderer. On September 3, 2009, Mr. Usman Hamid received a summons and on September 9, 2009, he reported to the Jakarta police headquarters. As of issuing this letter, the police investigation against him was still pending.
The investigation instigated by Mr. Muchdi Purwoprandjono is another instance of judicial harassment against Mr. Usman Hamid for having campaigned for justice for Mr. Munir Said Thalib.
Following her visit to Indonesia in June 2007, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Ms. Hina Jilani, voiced her concern at “the large number of prosecution of human rights defenders aimed at their harassment for conducting activities that are legitimately a part of their function for the defence of human rights” and she recommended inter alia that “legislation and procedures be instituted to prevent such prosecutions”.
Ms. Hina Jilani expressed particular interest in Mr. Munir Said Thalib’s case and called on the Government to release the report of the Fact-Finding team into Mr. Munir’s murder and act on its recommendations.
In light of the aforementioned reasons, the Observatory calls on the authorities of Indonesia to immediately drop all charges against Mr. Usman Hamid.
The Observatory also requests the Indonesian authorities to order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into Mr. Munir Said Thalib’s assassination, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law.
The Observatory also urges the Indonesian authorities to put an end to acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Indonesia.
More generally, the Observatory calls upon the Indonesian authorities to comply with the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Indonesia.
We express our sincere hope that you will take these considerations and requests into account,
FIDH President Eric Sottas
OMCT Secretary General
 A well-known human rights defender and anti-corruption activist, Mr. Munir Said Thalib was the founder of KontraS. He was assassinated as he was travelling from Indonesia to the Netherlands. Although two people have been convicted of involvement in Mr. Munir’s death, those responsible for the murder at the highest levels are allegedly still at large. See Observatory Annual Report 2009.
 Defamation is punishable by over five years’ imprisonment.