Responding to today’s opening trial of two human rights defenders (HRDs), Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar, Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said:
“This is a clear example of how human rights defenders in Indonesia are facing mounting repression over their peaceful expression. The work of human rights defenders must be protected, not repressed – not least in light of Indonesia’s proposed candidacy for UN Human Rights Council membership in 2024-26.
“We therefore urge the Indonesian authorities to drop all charges against Fatia and Haris, who have been targeted simply for having a discussion on YouTube.
“We also urge law enforcement officials to ensure that all human rights defenders can carry out their peaceful activities without harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention, or fear of reprisals.
“Accordingly, we call on the House of Representative to immediately amend the problematic EIT Law to decriminalize defamation and ensure that it is only treated as a civil matter.”
Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar are facing defamation charges on Monday at the opening trial at East Jakarta District Court.
The Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs filed a defamation case against Fatia and Haris in September 2021. Both were charged on 17 March 2022, with defamation under article 27 section (3) of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.
The police investigation relates to a YouTube video of a conversation between the two human rights defenders where they discussed the findings of a report on the alleged involvement of several military figures in the mining industry. Haris and Fatia could face up to four years in prison if found guilty.
Amnesty International Indonesia has recorded that at least 1,021 human rights defenders were prosecuted, arrested, attacked, and intimidated by various actors from January 2019 to December 2022. Meanwhile, there are at least 332 people that have been charged under the EIT Law, most of them accused of defamation, between January 2019 and May 2022.