IntroductionThis Human Rights Watch report reviews Indonesia’s Government and the situation on human rights defenders who protect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Despite constitutional reform having taken place in Indonesia, there are still many criminal offenses in place used to suppress political opposition. Indonesia has been evaluated for three UPR cycles which has landed them with 193 recommendations from 69 states which they have chosen to accept 159 of them (i). Specifically for this report, Human Rights Watch focuses on the recommendations for freedom of opinion and expression where both had 7 recommendations which makes up roughly 8% of the recommendations in total (i). For freedom of expression, 5 out of 7 recommendations were accepted. For human rights defenders 4 out of 7 recommendations were accepted. Most of the recommendations for these topics were to guarantee protection for defenders, investigate acts of violence committed against them, take steps to repeal legislation that restricts defending of rights, repeal laws that restrict freedom of expression, uphold freedom of expression, and make sure no laws are misused to restrict freedom of speech (i). The third review that took place on May 3rd, 2017 was completely differently than the two prior. Unlike most reviews where the human rights situation would be addressed on a national level, this time instead there was a variety of information given of state efforts to address the human rights situation in West Papua (a). Specifically, eight countries expressed concern regarding human rights violations. The main issues that were brought to attention were the deterioration of the freedom of expression and assembly, the protection of human rights defenders, and the opening of West Papua to foreign journalists. One example of human rights violations came about during the three decades that president Suharto ruled the country, where he put into place a law that allowed him during his dictatorship to manipulate the office of Attorney to crush any political “enemy” censoring books and printed material that contained criticism of the government (b). Between 2006 and 2010 alone the Attorney General had banned at least 22 books, which included history books that referred to the controversial issue that brought Suharto to power after the murder of seven army generals (b). Even after the fall of Suharto in 1998, many of his laws and dictatorship tendencies are still underlying in much of what occurs in Indonesia today. What it Means for Human Rights DefendersAs the Indonesian minister for law and human rights gave his presentation of the national report, he stated that there were 190 demonstrations throughout 2015 in Papua Province which would constitute as evidence that the government has been holding up human rights obligations with the respect to freedom of assembly, expression, and opinion. Unfortunately, the government continues to place restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in West Papua. Specifically, the restrictions continue to be placed on activities that revolve around the topic of politically sensitive issues. According to Damar Juniarto, the Regional Coordinator for Indonesia at the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network, the government has created many laws to protect individuals from cybercrime. Although the country has a growing cybercrime problem, these laws are quite vague and have led to poor interpretations which have placed people in jail for expressing their opinion freely on the internet (Indonesia’s internet law ‘limits freedom of expression’). In various provinces of Indonesia there are human rights defenders who are carrying out peaceful activities and are particularly in risk as they are targeted by both the authorities and insurgent groups (#Indonesia). In 2007 when the Special Representative visited Indonesia and specifically West Papua there were many concerns she expressed. Threats received by Mr. Albert Rumbeckwan were some of the most alarming, “You who are reporting about the human rights situation in Papua are trying to destroy the people. You want evidence of people being killed, I will kill your tribe, your family and your children will become only bones to show that there is only a zone of peace in Papua”(e). Even after the Special Representative expressed how dangerous these types of threats are and how they should be considered major issues, the government proceeded to treat it as an out of the norm situation. A situation that has only arisen because of the Special Representative arrival. She was informed that there would be police protection in situations such as these, but the lack of trust between the people and the police is still unnerving. Especially since the police have continued to show acts of violence and aggression towards human rights defenders defending freedom of expression and during acts of peaceful protests. As of August 2017 alone, the Indonesian paramilitary police had shot and killed one man and also wounded several others(f). “”The joint forces of police, mobile brigade police and army officers came. Did not ask questions but shot several youths,” Father Santon Petege told West Papuan information site, Tabloid Jubi.(f)” For human rights defenders the lack of media access in West Papua impacts the ability for them to complete their job to its full potential. As the violence against journalists continues to grow, it has created a climate of fear in West Papua. The Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) alone reported an increase in violent attacks towards journalist over the following four years: 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. From 40 to 42 and now with it being up to 78 in 2016 and 72 in 2017 (j) ©. AJI also reported that many of the attackers went without punishment for those 78 attacks ©. The about 100% increase in violence against journalists have proven that the climate of fear is both legitimate and concerning. Suwardjono, the AJI chairman, has stated that the police are the “enemy of the press” (j).The climate of fear has continued to worsen as HRDs have been charged with many different crimes under outdated, vague Criminal Codes. Defenders have been charged with “rebellion”, “incitement”, and “blasphemy”. A great concern for being charged with these is the potential penalty could be detention or even worse taken by the police force who are notoriously known for using torture on those in custody. In 2015 when there were 43 incidents against reporters, 14 of them were carried out by the police to cover sensitive news stories or protests (d). Journalists continue to have to struggle both with incidents from the authorities and nonstate actors(d). The 2008 Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) “criminalizes the distribution or accessibility of information that is “contrary to the moral norms of Indonesia”” and has been used often to criminalize journalists (d). It also gives broad definitions very much up to discretion of defamation and blasphemy which can make journalists extremely easy targets. This law expands to also  include other online restrictions. Other laws that are used to target and make HRDs work insufficient are anti-terrorists laws. In 2016 there was an amendment to this law that the Indonesian House of Representatives passed in October which was supposed to take effect in November of that year. The important amendment in this case is the “Right to be forgotten” clause. This aspect is supposed to improve privacy protection online and demand that an Electronic System Provider (ESP) “delete any ‘irrelevant’ electronic information or documents under the ESP’s control”(e). This process would go through a court order and the provider must have some sort of notion put into place to be able to delete what is requested of them. This amendment also defines ‘distributing’, ‘transmitting’, or ‘making accessible’ to wind down the number of broad interpretations the law has caused so far(e). Although the amendments to this law sound quite promising, there is concern of whether or not the Indonesian government is going to be monitored to make sure participants are complying with such changes. In May of 2015, President Joko Widodo stated that he would be lifting restrictions on foreign journalists in Papua and West Papua. However this lift has yet to be seen followed through. In May alone two journalists, Becky Prossner and Neil Bonner, were arrested while filming a documentary on piracy for National Geographic(g). They both ended up serving 5 months in an Indonesia prison  There was a group of nine Indonesian crew members that were released on bail two days after the arrest(g). Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have continued to pressure President Joko Widodo to honor his election promise of lifting this band and allowing journalists to operate legally in West Papua(h). As of March 17, French journalists Frank Escudie and Basile Longchamp were deported even after governmental approval to make a documentary that would include West Papua in it (h). The government claimed that they had been “displaying a ‘lack of coordination with related institutions'”, which means currently they cannot return to Indonesia (h). Foreign visitors in Indonesia, specifically West Papua, continue to be placed under extreme surveillance and have caused it to be very unlikely that true journalism can be completed there.Conclusion and RecommendationsAlthough there is much more to get done in Indonesia, they should also be praised for the steps that have been taken towards democracy since the fall of Suharto. It has been pointed out that since the last review in 2012, there have been major improvements in different regions such as the easternmost provinces of Papua and Papua Barat. The president, Joko Widodo, spent time in these regions to ensure that improvements were being made and to monitor the development. The government had also allegedly addressed past human rights abuses in Western Papua. However, since similar recommendations from the second review were also placed in the third review there is a concern on how much has actually improved in Western Papua. Indonesia has much more to do in order to become a state truly with freedom of expression and assembly and the protection of human rights defenders. These are the recommendations that Human Rights Watch would like for Indonesia to have: Clarify which mechanisms are used to protect human rights defenders and allow them to conduct their workAddress past human rights violations and issue both the truth and apologies to those affected and their familiesEnsure that the officers and military personnel who have been accused as attackers are held accountable who have been involved in human rights violationsProtect and ensure foreign journalists can freely report from Indonesia There should be an immediate end to any detentions, arrests, and deportations of international journalists for their work in reporting from Indonesia


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