Indonesia
08.01.24
Urgent Interventions

Indonesia: Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar acquitted

© KontraS

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

IDN 001 / 0921 / OBS 093.2
Acquittal
Indonesia
January 8, 2024

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Indonesia.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) about the acquittal of Fatia Maulidiyanti, former Coordinator of KontraS, FIDH’s Vice President, and OMCT General Assembly member, and Haris Azhar, Executive Director of Lokataru. KontraS is a human rights organisation formed by a number of civil society organisations and community leaders in 1998 to monitor human rights issues in Indonesia and handle cases of enforced disappearances and victims of state violence. Lokataru Foundation is an organisation working for the realisation of a collaborative and meaningful positive engagement among state, communities, and private sectors based on human rights values and the rule of law principles, by fighting abuse of power, corruption, and human rights violations.

On January 8, 2024, the East Jakarta District Court acquitted Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar of criminal defamation charges after more than two years of judicial harassment, in a case that revealed flaws and deficiencies in Indonesia’s legal system. The two human rights defenders were prosecuted under charges of “attacking someone's honour or reputation with accusations” and “defamation” (Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code, respectively) as well as under Article 45(3) of the amended Electronic Information and Transaction (EIT) Law[1], for speaking out about state corruption and human rights violations perpetrated in Indonesia’s Papua region.

The Observatory recalls that on August 26, 2021, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, sent a subpoena through his legal representatives to Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti’s attorneys in relation to a talk show video[2] posted on Haris Azhar's YouTube channel on August 20, 2021. In the video, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti discussed the findings of research carried out by several environmental and human rights organisations, including KontraS, about the business activities of Indonesian army officials, both active and retired, in the gold mining sector and their alleged plans to exploit the Blok Wabu area in Sugapa District, Intan Jaya Regency, Papua Province.[3] The video claims that Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan owns shares of PT Toba Sejahtera Group (TS), a company that controls PT Tobacom Del Mandiri (TDM), one of the mining companies that are involved in the mining operations in the Blok Wabu area.

In the subpoena, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti were asked to explain the reason for posting the video and to apologise to Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan within five days through Haris Azhar's YouTube channel, mass media, and online media, and to promise not to reoffend. Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti refused to apologise. Furthermore, in the subpoena, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan threatened to take further legal action should the two human rights defenders fail to comply with his demands.

On September 22, 2021, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan filed a police report against Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti, alleging that both violated criminal defamation provisions, namely “attacking someone's honour or reputation with accusations” and “defamation” (Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code, respectively) and Article 45(3) of the amended Electronic Information and Transaction (EIT) Law. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan asked for 300 billion Indonesian rupiahs (approximately 18 million Euros) in compensation.

On March 6, 2023, the Jakarta Metropolitan Regional Police submitted the findings of the investigation opened against the two human rights defenders to the Attorney General’s Office for their prosecution.

On April 3, 2023, the criminal defamation trial against Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar opened before the East Jakarta District Court. On November 13, 2023, during the 27th hearing of the trial, the Public Prosecutor requested that Fatia Maulidiyanti be sentenced to three years and six months in prison and a fine of 500,000 Rupiah (approximately 30 Euros), and Haris Azhar be sentenced to four years in prison and a fine of one million Rupiah (approximately 60 Euros).

The Observatory welcomes the acquittal of Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar, but recalls that they should never have been prosecuted in the first place, as this judicial harassment was only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities and for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression.

The Observatory calls on the authorities in Indonesia to put an end to any acts of harassment –including at the judicial level– against Fatia Maulidiyanti, Haris Azhar, and all other human rights defenders in the country, and to ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisal.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Indonesia asking them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Fatia Maulidiyanti, Haris Azhar, and all other human rights defenders in Indonesia;

ii. Put an immediate end to all acts of harassment –including at the judicial level– against Fatia Maulidiyanti, Haris Azhar, and all other human rights defenders in Indonesia;

iii. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the right to freedom expression in the country, both offline and online, in accordance with relevant international and regional human rights standards, in particular Articles 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a state party.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, Twitter: @jokowi
  • Mr. Tito Karnavian. Minister of Home Affairs, Email: pusdatin@kemendagri.go.id
  • Mr. Yasonna Laoly, Minister for Justice and Human Rights, Email: rohumas@kemenkumham.go.id
  • Mr. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Email: humas@maritim.go.id
  • Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights, Email: info@komnasham.go.id
  • Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia in Geneva, Email: geneva@mission-indonesia.org
  • Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia to the Kingdom of Belgium, Email: kbri.brussel@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Indonesia in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, January 8, 2024

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: alert@observatoryfordefenders.org
  • Tel FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
  • Tel OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

[1] Article 45(3) of Law No. 19 of 2016 Concerning the Amendment to Law No. 11 of 2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions stipulates that any person who knowingly and without authority distributes and/or transmits and/or causes to be accessible Electronic Information and/or Electronic Records with contents of affronts and/or defamation could be prosecuted. The punishment for this offence is imprisonment not exceeding four years and/or a fine not exceeding seven 150 million Indonesian rupiah.

[2] The video is entitled "Ada Lord Luhut dibalik Relasi Ekonomi-Ops Militer Intan Jaya!! Jenderal BIN Juga Ada!!” [“There is Lord Luhut behind the Economic Relations-Military Operations Intan Jaya!! The General of the State Intelligence Agency is also there!!].

[3] Mining operations in the Blok Wabu area have been linked to extrajudicial killings, land grabbing, and environmental degradation, which have resulted in the displacement of members of the local communities.


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