Indonesia: Prosecution of two human rights defenders is ‘blatant disrespect’ for human rights

The Indonesian authorities must drop criminal charges against human rights defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar as they stem solely from their right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International Indonesia said today.

On 6 March 2023, Indonesian police filed a criminal defamation case with the Attorney General’s Office against both human rights defenders, setting the stage for trial.

“This case demonstrates again the blatant disrespect for human rights on the part of Indonesian authorities. Criminal defamation laws are an unlawful restriction on the right to freedom of expression and must therefore be repealed,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid.

“The Indonesian government’s harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders has become an alarming trend. Our latest report documents how the space for civil society in Indonesia has shrunk within the last three years as a result of an ongoing assault on the right to freedom of expression.”

“While government officials continue to state that they are committed to respecting and protecting human rights, their actions show differently. If they are truly committed to human rights, the authorities should immediately drop the charges against Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar.”

“Repression against human rights defenders, critics and dissidents shows the authorities’ ongoing failure to protect the right freedom of expression and ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders in the country,” Usman said.

“We also encourage the international community to call on the Indonesian government to adhere to its obligations under international law and protect human rights defenders.”

Background:

The Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, filed a defamation case against Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar 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.

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