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After terrible year for human rights, activists predicts 2020 will be even worse

CNN Indonesia - January 16, 2020

Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) believes that violations against human rights (HAM) and civil freedoms have worsened in 2019. YLBHI General Chairperson Asfinawati says that the indicators on human rights protection and civil freedoms have worsened as depicted by an increase in rights violations in various sectors."Last year (2019) it got worse, so we project that 2020 will be a dangerous year in the lives of ordinary people and communities", explained Asfinawati at the YLBHI offices in Jakarta on Wednesday January 15.

The first indicator, continued Asfinawati, is related to cases involving violations of freedom to express an opinion in public. The foundation recorded 87 such cases in 2019 covering refusals to issue permits for activities, obstructing activities and forcibly breaking up activities.

Next, said Asfinawati was the issue of criminalisation of human rights defenders. She gave the example of one such victim, YLBHI lawyer Era Purnama Sari.

"[We] don't want to say that HAM defenders are more important that those who are being defended, but if people who are defending [others] – for the sake of the law – are attacked, criminalised, what about those being defended? Yet an advocate carrying out their job is one of the things which is guaranteed under law", she said accusingly.

The human rights situation in 2019 was made worse by the judicial process which YLBHI referred to as ridden with rights violations. The YLBHI found an increase in the number of cases of rights violations against people seeking fair trial.

"Law enforcement, right now [has in fact] become part of HAM violations", said YLBHI advocacy division head Muhammad Isnur.

Hesitant to make recommendations

Isnur explained further that the pattern and number of fair trial violations in 2019 have increased compared with the previous year. In 2018 the YLBHI recorded 144 cases of violations against fair trial, which increased to 169 in 2019.

"On the issue of torture [to elicit a confession], if before there were 29 cases, now there are 56 cases, so torture by the police has increased by almost 100 percent", he explained.

Likewise in cases of criminalisation. In 2018 there were 27 cases involving 202 victims. In 2019 there were 47 cases involving as many as 788 people.

Based on this record of violations, the YLBHI is projecting that the situation this year will be even more alarming. Especially so bearing in mind that the policies of the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin are tending to prioritise development and investment.

"And what is even more terrifying, is this trend is not just the bad direction this country is heading and the practices on the ground. But an growing absense or worsening of direction of HAM in the government's concept of what it is to be a country, the visions of the head of state and statements by government officials and others who appear on a daily basis which is being realised in practical policy planning", said Isnur.

Based on this record of human rights violations, Asfinawati is reluctant to make any recommendations on addressing these rights violations. The reason being is that she feels that these problems keep being repeated and they have been making the same recommendations on how to address them every year.

"Of course we will make formal recommendations, the DPR [House of Representatives] should do this, and the police should do that. But I feel even though my colleges are calling for this, I feel reluctant to make any recommendations. Because this is what we have been doing for years and years, almost exactly the same [every year]. So we ourselves face a dilemma in speaking out on the issue of fair trial", she said.

In the end, Asfinawati continues to call on the public to monitor the government's performance. "In the end we believe, that what must be done is invite all people to go back to [building] a political force, manage the ordinary people's public affairs in a genuine way. And get rid of the oligarchy", said Asfinawati in closing. (ika/wis)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Proyeksi YLBHI: 2020 Jadi Tahun yang Mengancam Rakyat".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20200115202153-12-465726/proyeksi-ylbhi-2020-jadi-tahun-yang-mengancam-rakyat