APSN Banner

Rights groups urges government to cancel plan to form legal monitoring team

Tempo - May 8, 2019

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) is urging Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Kemenko Polhukam) Wiranto to cancel the formation of a legal team tasked with monitoring the remarks, actions and thoughts of certain figures who are allegedly threatening state security.

"We urge the Menkopolhukam to cancel the planned formation of this team and efforts to issue policies which will impact upon human rights violations, harm democracy, including the freedom of the press", said Kontras Coordinator Yati Andriyani in a written release on Tuesday May 7.

Earlier, Wiranto declared that the government will form the team. The team is deemed necessary because of widespread cases of hate speech, statements containing radicalism, pornography, calls to incitement and the like which have been made by certain national figures and spread through social media. Particularly those related to the momentum of the April 17 presidential and legislative (pemilu) elections.

Andriyani believes that the government's concern or panic over the political dynamics and situation which has emerged following the elections must be proportional, measured and accountable, and prioritise the principles of democracy and human rights.

The policies issued by the government in confronting this political dynamic, she said, cannot be allowed to do irreparable damage to the values of democracy and human rights which guarantee the right to freedom of opinion, expression and association.

"Threats against the press, monitoring social figures and other individuals without clear parameters and accountability will only undermine democracy. Meanwhile other state regulations such as the UU ITE [Information and Electronic Transaction Law] are already quite effectively [being used] to abrogate citizen's freedom of expression", said Andriyani.

In addition to this, Andriyani said that the plan to form the team shows that the state does not have faith in the existing legal instruments and law enforcement.

"It also shows the weakness of coordination between state institutions bearing in mind that the solution being offered to confront this political dynamic and social situation by forming this team also has the potential to overlap with the authority of existing law enforcement agencies and monitoring institutions", she said.

Based on the above, aside from urging Wiranto to halt the planned formation of the team, Kontras is also urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to ensure that all steps and decisions taken by his cabinet minister are taken with full knowledge, understanding and control.

This includes ensuring that the measures taken do not do irreparable harm to the values of democracy and human rights.

"The government, law enforcement officials, must be able to maintain their neutrality and professionalism in confronting the political dynamics that have emerged post the pemilu", said Andriyani.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KontraS Desak Wiranto Urungkan Rencana Tim Pengkaji Ucapan Tokoh".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1203119/kontras-desak-wiranto-urungkan-rencana-tim-pengkaji-ucapan-tokoh/