Indonesia: Human Rights In 2011

Friday, 9 December 2011, 11:44 am
Press Release: Asian Human Rights Commission

The Decay Of Pancasila And Constitutional Protections

AHRC-STM-190-2011
December 8, 2011

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the Occasion of the International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011

On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011 the AHRC publishes its annual report on the State of Human Rights in Indonesia in 2011.

In 2011, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has witnessed a deterioration of the human rights situation in Indonesia in terms of religious freedom, the role of the judiciary and accountability for violence by security forces. This report, which is based on the organisation’s documentation and monitoring work, shows that Indonesia remains heavily affected by serious human rights violations and shortcomings in the rule of law. The lack of effective prevention and legal measures taken by the legal apparatus against fundamentalist groups, shows the inability of the State to ensure fundamental rights, such as the right to life and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Constitutional foundations such as “unity in diversity” (Pancasila) and fundamental rights are being undermined, as is being seen in the lack of appropriate responses by the State to the decay of religious pluralism and diversity. Constitutional fundamental rights are not being enforced for Aceh’s citizens, who live under discriminating Sharia laws, or for religious minorities in Java and elsewhere in the country, who face persecution, or for indigenous Papuans who lack equal access to justice, protection and social welfare and as a result increasingly reject Indonesian citizenship. Indonesia’s international recognition as a role-model for secular democracy in the region, and as the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, is losing credibility.

Numerous cases of violations of the freedom of religion were reported in 2011. This situation cannot be separated from Indonesia’s recent history. The relationship between State and religion in Indonesia is swinging from one extreme to the other. Under the authoritarian Suharto regime, which was in power until 1998, religious movements were violently suppressed, as shown in the Tanjung Priok (1984) and Talangsari (1989) incidents, during which hundreds of Muslims were killed. Alleged perpetrators in that case remain unpunished. The use of violence against religious groups was a strategy at that time to prevent Islamists from gaining political power. Conversely, the trend that has developed in recent years shows that religious organisations are now undermining State institutions and justice processes. The increased religious violence is exemplified by the killing of three Ahmadiyah followers in February 2011. The perpetrators in the case have received no or only lenient punishments, while victims among religious minorities suffer persecution.

Violence by security forces, including the police and military, remains the other major concern in Indonesia in 2011. The AHRC continued to receive numerous cases of torture by the police, and, from crises regions under heavy military control like Papua, (1) it received cases of torture by the military. The AHRC is deeply concerned by the violent dispersal and killings during the Third Papuan Congress in October 2011.

The prevailing climate of impunity permits such violence to go unchecked. It is caused by the lack of effective reforms to provide impartial and professional accountability mechanisms, including for human rights violations. Efforts to develop and reform the bodies mandated to oversee the police, prosecution and judiciary, such as the extension of the mandate of the National Police Commission (KOMPOLNAS) and the mandate of the Prosecutorial Commission, are important steps taken by the GoI. However, in practice, police officers cannot be criminally prosecuted for the widespread use of torture to obtain information or punish detainees, and members of the military cannot be held accountable by independent investigations and civilian courts. They continue to be tried exclusively by the Indonesian National Army’s (TNI) legal system, which has serious flaws and typically perpetuates impunity. While Indonesia had announced the inclusion of the crime of torture in its new draft criminal code, this draft has been pending for adoption for many years. Sharia law in Aceh institutionalises corporal punishment and therefore inhuman and degrading treatment, and violates rights concerning fair trials.

The freedom of expression of activists in Papua is frequently violated through arrests of protesters and imprisonment for the peaceful expression of political opinions. More than 60 cases of violence against journalists in 2011 and several defamation law suits were reported. A new law concerning the State’s intelligence system passed in 2011, and allows for arbitrary measures that violate human rights and can be used to silence activists. Civil society faces many serious challenges to their ability to perform work in favour of human rights and reforms.

As a survey by the Kompas newspaper in 12 major Indonesian cities in October revealed, 83\% of the respondents are dissatisfied with the work of the police, judiciary and the attorney general’s office in upholding the law. Almost 100\% of the respondents felt that political conflicts within the police and corruption within State institutions is, in general, in a serious condition. (2)

Politicisation of criminal justice institutions such as the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), corruption in the judiciary and the immunity of military commanders present an ongoing problem. The lack of accountability for gross violations of human rights and ongoing impunity for the instigators of the 2004 assassination of Indonesia’s leading human rights defender, Munir Said Thalib, due to the refusal of the Attorney General to conduct new investigations, are key indicators concerning the inability of State institutions to address human rights violations effectively, and thus to fulfil their mandate to ensure a just and fair society. As a result, religious extremism grows and violations by security forces continue.

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