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Indonesia human rights coalition in Geneva: Civil liberties still under restraint

Tempo - September 2, 2022

Arrijal Rachman, Jakarta – The coalition of Indonesian civil society on Wednesday presented their findings regarding the human rights situation at the United Nations (UN) Palais des Nations in Geneva, in which they concluded that civilian rights in Indonesia remain to be shackled in the past 4.5 years.

The coalition comprises the 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 Caucus for Academic Freedom (KIKA).

During the session, KontraS coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti argued that Indonesia has yet established comprehensive regulations overseeing human rights activists and their protection. This situation has given way for acts of violence against activists to reoccur.

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

Violence committed against activists that are currently happening has turned into impunity as past human rights violations are yet to be resolved, such as the Paniai Tragedy which killed 4 people and injured 21 others in Paniai, Papua.

The case was initially brought by KontraS to the Human Rights Court and they lament the fact that only one suspect was named. Fatia added that the Attorney General's Office failed to involve the victim's family and civil society groups, and the location of the court is far from where the victim's relatives reside.

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

According to Amnesty's data monitoring, 106 people had fallen victim to the ITE Law 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. Human rights activists and defenders in Papua and West Papua who protest peacefully are often accused of treason under Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code.

Moreover, SAFEnet director Damar Juniarto added that despite Indonesia's constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression and also ratified the ICCPR, violence and violations against freedom of expression continue to grow. The expression he referred to include sexual orientation, identity, and gender expression.

KIKA representative Herlambang Wiratraman said that freedom in the academic is also a problem in Indonesia. Meanwhile, SERUNI chairperson Helda Khasmy highlighted injustice toward women's development. One of them can be seen in the increasing inequality of land ownership, where only one percent of the population controls 68 percent of land in Indonesia.

"Land ownership by women, which from the last UPR cycle remains at 24 percent, when compared to men who own land. In addition, around 10 million women work in palm oil fields, of which at least 70 percent of them was only hired as day laborers and paid hourly and lower than full-time workers

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1629559/indonesia-human-rights-coalition-in-geneva-civil-liberties-still-under-restrain