Subject: RI Rights Activists Doubt House's Commitment [+New Criminal Code/Free Speech]

also: JP: New Criminal Code 'could limit free speech'

The Jakarta Post Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rights Activists Skeptical of House's Commitment

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Activists have said that they are skeptical of the House of Representatives' commitment to bringing to justice retired and active Army generals implicated in human rights abuses.

The House is set to submit a report on three shooting incidents in 1998 and 1999 to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono next Tuesday.

House Commission III overseeing legal, legislation, human rights and security affairs has recommended that the 1998 Trisakti shootings that killed four students and the 1998 and 1999 Semanggi shootings that killed a total of 18 people go to trial.

Contacted separately, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Usam Hamid, Charmain Mohamed of New York-based Human Rights Watch and executive director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (Demos) Asmara Nababan said they were unconvinced about the move.

Usman said Kontras and the relatives of the victims feared that the House's recommendation was only a formality designed to avoid angering the public and that the House knew the eventual outcome would be that "justice is not upheld".

"Strong political support from the House and political parties is required to press the President to set up an ad hoc court with a presidential decree and to order the Attorney General's Office to thoroughly investigate the tragedies," he said.

Charmain agreed with Usman, saying the credibility of the House and the government was being tested.

"We fear the outcome of the trial, if the ad hoc court is established, that the three shootings will be similar to that of the Tanjung Priok and Timor Leste cases," she said.

All military and police officers tried in the Tanjung Priok and Timor Leste cases were acquitted of all charges.

The National Commission on Human Rights found gross human rights crimes in its investigation into the three shootings, but the Attorney General's Office has declined to follow up the findings and has said that the rights body has no authority to investigate the incidents.

Asmara said he was skeptical because the way the incidents were being investigated contradicted the 2000 Ad Hoc Court Law.

"The law requires the Attorney General's Office to follow up the rights body's findings by collecting evidence and questioning those involved in the incidents.

"After the (Attorney General's Office) gets strong evidence and suspects, the House makes a political recommendation for the President to set up an ad hoc court. The ad hoc court will be idle if no suspects are declared in the cases," he said.

Former defense minister and Indonesian Military chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto, former Army Special Forces commander Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subiakto and Defense Ministry secretary general Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin have been linked to the incidents. All three have denied their involvement in human rights abuses.

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The Jakarta Post Saturday, February 17, 2007

New Criminal Code 'could limit free speech'

ID Nugroho and Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The draft revised Criminal Code currently being deliberated at the House of Representatives contains articles that limit freedom of expression and target the media, say observers and lawmakers.

Speaking at a workshop on the revised Criminal Code this week, legislator Soeripto, of the Prosperous Justice Party, said that other bills also currently being drafted also had the potential to restrict free speech.

"The draft laws will restrict freedom of expression, such as the bills on state secrets, intelligence and national security," he said, adding that it would make room for the state to oppress citizens and be contradictory to the spirit of reformasi.

"That means reformasi is yet to be achieved due to the lack of cultural changes on the part of state leaders and clear signs the government is not siding with the people."

Soeripto, who is a member of House Commission I, added that there needed to be constant public access to the government, without excluding transparency and accountability.

"Last but not least is the need for international pressure," he said.

The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) says that at least 60 of the new articles added to the revised criminal code could be used to stifle people's freedom. These include articles on agitation directed at the government, airing misleading reports and news, defamation of the government and state institutions, defamation of individual reputations and divulging state secrets.

"A punishment of seven years' imprisonment awaits those who divulge state secrets, (but they don't say) what sort of secrets they are (talking about)," said LBH Pers director Hendrayana.

Hendrayana said the articles could inhibit people's freedom of expression and stifle the right to obtain information through the media.

The article on the defamation of "one's good reputation", for example, states that "a person who verbally damages the integrity or good reputation of another person by accusing him or her of a certain matter with the intention of publicizing it" can be convicted of libel, which carries a sentence of a year in prison or a fine of Rp 7.5 million (US$835).

The article on agitation aimed at the government mandates two years in prison or a Rp 30 million fine for anyone found guilty of insulting the government in a manner that incites public unrest.

"What can the people do if everything is forbidden?" asked Hendrayana.

Leo Batubara, a member of the press council, said bills suppressing the freedom of expression were a manifestation of struggle between good and evil in Indonesia and were part of the move to revise the press law.

"Calls to revise the press law are against the people's will but in favor of the corrupt, because a free press will hinder corruption," he said.

Leo said that many law enforcement personnel preferred a Criminal Code that did not side with the people.

"A revised Criminal Code that does not side with the people will be economically beneficial for those who are corrupt," said Leo.

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Terjemahan (atas jasa "Kataku")

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service


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