Indonesian Human Rights Coalition in Geneva: Civil liberties still under strain

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The Indonesian civil society coalition on Wednesday presented its findings regarding the human rights situation at the United Nations (UN) Palace of Nations in Geneva, in which they concluded that the rights of civilians in Indonesia have remained shackled for the past 4.5 years.

The coalition includes National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), Amnesty International Indonesia, Indonesian Women’s Union (SERUNI) and the Indonesian Academic Freedom Caucus (KIKA).

During the session, KontraS coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti claimed that Indonesia has yet to establish comprehensive regulations monitoring human rights activists and their protection. This situation gave way to acts of violence against activists.

“These human rights defenders are in some cases seen as threats, as data obtained by KontraS over the past five years shows that there are 687 cases of violence against human rights activists” , she said during the pre-session Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Indonesia on August 31.

Violence against activists that is happening now has turned into impunity as past human rights abuses remain unresolved, such as the Paniai tragedy that killed 4 people and injured 21 others in Paniai, Papua .

The case was initially brought by KontraS before the Court of Human Rights and they deplore the fact that only one suspect has been named. Fatia added that the Attorney General’s office has not involved the victim’s family and civil society groups, and that the location of the court is far from where the victim’s relatives reside.

Regarding civil liberties, Amnesty International Indonesia, represented by Marguerite Afra, raised the issue of freedom of expression and of the press. Referring to the last UPR cycle, there has been no significant improvement in the situation.

According to Amnesty data monitoring, 106 people were victimized by the ITE Act throughout 2021, simply for peacefully expressing their views. Referring to the records of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), there were 43 cases of attacks on journalists in 2021 alone.

These include digital and physical attacks, threats and criminalization. Journalists’ access to Papua and West Papua remains very limited. Another issue that was also raised was the right to freedom of assembly. Activists and human rights defenders in Papua and West Papua who protest peacefully are often charged with treason under Sections 106 and 110 of the Penal Code.

Additionally, SAFEnet Director Damar Juniarto added that despite Indonesia’s constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression and also ratifying the ICCPR, violence and violations of freedom of expression continue to increase. The expression he referred to includes sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

KIKA representative Herlambang Wiratraman said freedom in academia is also an issue in Indonesia. Meanwhile, SERUNI President Helda Khasmy pointed out the injustice towards women’s development. One of them can be seen in the growing inequality of land ownership, where only 1% of the population controls 68% of the land in Indonesia.

“Women’s land ownership, which since the last UPR cycle remains at 24%, compared to men who own land. 70% of them were only hired as day laborers and paid by the hour and less than full-time workers


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