Key issues the EU must raise during human rights dialogue

Press release

Paris, Jakarta, 27 June 2016: The EU must put the death penalty, proposed amendments to counter-terrorism legislation, recent anti-communist resurgence, and ongoing human rights violations in Papua at the top of its agenda for the human rights dialogue with Indonesia, FIDH and its member organization KontraS said today. The annual EU-Indonesia human rights dialogue will be held in Brussels on 28 June 2016.

“EU officials must use the dialogue to obtain clear commitments on pressing human rights issues that, if left unaddressed, have the potential to undermine the positive relations between the EU and Indonesia.”

Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

FIDH and KontraS are alarmed by reports that 16 death row inmates [Indonesia (6), China (4), Zimbabwe (2), Nigeria (2), South Africa (1), and Pakistan (1)] are expected to be executed by firing squad immediately after the end of Ramadan (6-7 July 2016). All of them were convicted of drug-related offenses. Authorities stated that there are currently 152 people on death row and that the executions of drug traffickers would be prioritized, with plans to execute 16 this year and 30 in 2017.

FIDH and KontraS urge the EU to demand that the Indonesian government immediately halt all executions and introduce an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty as an initial step toward the abolition of capital punishment.

FIDH and KontraS are also concerned about the Indonesian Parliament’s consideration of amendments to anti-terrorism legislation enacted in 2003. Proposed amendments to the law would allow authorities to detain suspects without judicial oversight for longer periods of time than currently allowed. In addition, the draft legislation contains vague provisions on the incitement of terrorism that would severely restrict the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Proposed amendments would also allow the military to assist police in counter-terrorism operations. This measure would give military personnel, with no law enforcement training, police powers. Such powers may lead to abuses of power and the disproportionate use of force in violation of international standards. Lastly, the bill makes certain offenses punishable by death. Proposed amendments to the 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law, if adopted in their current form, would be inconsistent with international human rights standards, including Indonesia’s international legal obligations concerning the right to life, the right to a judicial review of the deprivation of liberty, and the right to a fair trial.

FIDH and KontraS urge the EU to emphasize to Indonesian authorities that Indonesia’s approach to tackling the threat of terrorism must be constructed and conducted within the legal framework provided by the relevant international human rights instruments that the country has ratified.

FIDH and KontraS are also disturbed by reports of recent arbitrary arrests and the imposition of restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in response to purported activities in support of communist ideals.

On 3 May 2016, military authorities in east Jakarta seized several copies of the Hammer and Sickle in the Sugar Cane Field, a book that revisits the 1965-1966 anti-communist massacres. On the same day, police blocked the screening of a documentary on two exiled communist writers at the office of the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Yogyakarta, central Java. On 11 May, military authorities in Ternate, North Maluku Province, arrested two activists with the Alliance of Indigenous People (AMAN) for possession of t-shirts emblazoned with the letters ‘PKI’, which stood for pecinta kopi Indonesia [Indonesian coffee lovers]. Police claimed the acronym referred to the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The two could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of violating People’s Consultative Assembly Decree No. 25/1966 and Law 27/1999 – two laws that prohibit any propaganda promoting Marxism/Leninism.

These actions occurred amid renewed efforts by various grassroots and civil society organizations to seek truth and justice for the victims of the 1965-1966 anti-communist massacres. FIDH and KontraS urge the EU to demand that Indonesian authorities guarantee the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with Indonesia’s international human rights obligations. The two organizations also call on the EU to encourage and support Indonesia’s attempts to have an open dialogue on the country’s legacy of serious human rights abuses as a first step towards achieving justice and reconciliation.

Finally, FIDH and KontraS call on the EU to demand that the Indonesian government address the tensions in Papua Province, where authorities have increased arbitrary arrests of peaceful protestors and access to foreign and independent media remains restricted.

On 2 May 2016, police arrested almost 1,700 protestors in a series of demonstrations across Papua. On 15 June 2016, security forces detained more than 1,000 demonstrators near Papua Province’s capital Jayapura for protesting without a permit. The protesters demanded that an independent body, rather than the Indonesian government, conduct human rights investigations into allegations of past human rights abuses in the region.

FIDH and KontraS call on the EU to urge Indonesian authorities to refrain from arbitrarily arresting peaceful protestors and to grant independent media and reporters unfettered access to the Papua region. The two organizations also request that the EU demand the Indonesian government conduct swift, thorough, impartial, and independent investigations into all allegations of human rights abuses committed in Papua.

“As part of the dialogue, EU and Indonesian officials must agree on specific, time-bound, and measurable benchmarks that can be used to assess progress on human rights. If words are not followed by actions, the human rights dialogue will remain a toothless public relations exercise.”

Haris Azhar, KontraS Executive Director
Press contacts
Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66 886 117722 (Bangkok)
Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33672284294 (Paris)
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