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Human rights defenders Fatia Maulidyanti and Haris Azhar questioned by the police and designated as suspects

Status: 
Subpoena and Complaint
About the situation

On 21 March 2022, human rights defender Haris Azhar and woman human rights defender Fatia Maulidyanti reported to the Greater Jakarta Metropolitan Regional Police for questioning in relation to a defamation complaint filed against them by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Earlier, on 18 March 2022, both human rights defenders were designated as suspects in the case by the Jakarta Police through notification letters on the Determination of Suspects. The notification was delivered to both of them on the night of 18 March at approximately 9pm, along with a summons for questioning as a suspect at Polda Metro Jaya on 21 March 2022.

On August 26, 2021, human rights defender Haris Azhar and woman human rights defender Fatia Maulidyanti were issued one subpoena by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment concerning the posting of a talk show on Haris Azhar's YouTube channel. In the subpoena, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidyanti were asked to explain the motive for posting the video to the Coordinating Minister. In addition, the two defenders were asked to apologize in five days to the Minister through Haris Azhar's YouTube channel, mass media, and online media and promise not to repeat the act. The subpoena mentions that if an apology is not made, legal actions will be taken against the human rights defenders.

About the HRD

Fatia Maulidiyanti is a woman human rights defender and the Coordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a prominent human rights organization in Indonesia established in 1998. She has been involved in various civil society movements since she was in the university, namely student press, working on various human rights issues such as death penalty, business and human rights, unfair trial, human rights defenders and human rights in conflict. She is also the founder of a book donation community for death-row inmates called Books For Tomorrow.

28 March 2022
Human rights defenders Fatia Maulidyanti and Haris Azhar questioned by the police and designated as suspects

On 21 March 2022, human rights defender Haris Azhar and woman human rights defender Fatia Maulidyanti reported to the Greater Jakarta Metropolitan Regional Police for questioning in relation to a defamation complaint filed against them by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Earlier, on 18 March 2022, both human rights defenders were designated as suspects in the case by the Jakarta Police through notification letters on the Determination of Suspects. The notification was delivered to both of them on the night of 18 March at approximately 9pm, along with a summons for questioning as a suspect at Polda Metro Jaya on 21 March 2022.

The complaint filed by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan was in response to a talk show hosted by Haris Azhar’s YouTube Channel, which suggested that the ongoing military operations in West Papua are serving to protect mining businesses in the province. In the video, Fatia Maulidyanti implied that the Coordinating Minister is a shareholder in a company that runs mining projects in the Intan Jaya District of West Papua. Before filing the defamation complaint with the police, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan had issued subpoenas to the human rights defenders, asking for an explanation of the allegations made against him in the video, along with an apology for the claims.

On 21 March 2022, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidyanti were questioned by the police for at least six hours. They were asked several questions about the talk show posted on YouTube and the claims made by them in the video. The human rights defenders said that the police had only asked one question related to the mining operations in West Papua. If the human rights defenders are convicted under the charges of defamation, they could face up to six years in prison.

On 27 September 2021, Front Line Defenders, along with fifteen other civil society organisations and human rights groups issued a statement urging the authorities in Indonesia to cease the judicial harassment against Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidyanti and withdraw the arbitrary charges against them.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the designation of Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidyanti as suspects, as it believes it to be in response to their legitimate human rights work. We urge the relevant authorities in Indonesia to immediately cease all forms of harassment against the human rights defenders and dismiss all charges brought against them.

23 September 2021
Defamation complaint filed against human rights defenders Fatia Maulidyanti and Haris Azhar

On 22 September 2021, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan lodged a defamation complaint against human rights defender Haris Azhar and woman human rights defender Fatia Maulidyanti at the Jakarta Police Headquarters. The complaint was in response to a talk show hosted by Haris Azhar on his YouTube Channel which suggested that the ongoing military operations in West Papua are serving to protect mining businesses in the province. If charged, the human rights defenders could face up to six years in prison.

On 26 August 2021, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidyanti were issued one subpoena by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan for posting the talk show on YouTube. In the subpoena, the human rights defenders were asked to explain the motive for posting the video to the Coordinating Minister. In addition, they were asked to publicly apologise to the Minister within five days and promise not to repeat the act. The subpoena mentioned that if an apology is not made, legal actions will be taken against the human rights defenders.

On 2 September 2021, another subpoena was issued to the human rights defenders which was similar in nature and content. On 7 September 2021, Fatia Maulidyanti sent a response to the second subpoena through her lawyers stating that her critique was aimed at Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan’s official position as a minister, and not as an individual. On 8 September, Haris Azhar also sent a response explaining his stance to the Coordinating Minister. On 9 September 2021, following the responses, the Minister’s legal counsel announced their decision to report the human rights defenders to the police.

During the talk show posted on 20 August 2021, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti discussed the research results of several human rights organizations, such as KontraS, Walhi, Jatam, YLBHI, and Pusaka, about the role of Indonesian Army officials and retirees in the gold mining business and their plan to exploit the Blok Wabu area in Intan Jaya, West Papua. In the video, Fatia Maulidyanti implied that a mining company in which Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is a shareholder has mining projects in the Intan Jaya District of West Papua.

The subpoena issued by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan states that Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti will face charges under Article 27 paragraph (3) of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law concerning defamation, and Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code concerning attacking someone’s honour and reputation with accusations and defamation respectively. However, the Criminal Code also contains relevant justifications for posting the talk show under Article 310 paragraph (3), which states, “it does not constitute defamation if the act is carried out in the public interest”.

It has been observed by human rights defenders in Indonesia that government officials are abusing

their power by using the Electronic, Information, and Transactions Law to silence activists and human rights defenders in the country. Front Line Defenders is concerned about the accusations brought against human rights defenders Fatia Maulidyanti and Haris Azhar as it believes that they are in direct response to their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in the country.

3 September 2021
Subpoena issued against human rights defender Hariz Azhar and woman human rights defender Fatia Maulidyanti

 

On August 26, 2021, human rights defender Haris Azhar and woman human rights defender Fatia Maulidyanti were issued one subpoena by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment concerning the posting of a talk show on Haris Azhar's YouTube channel. In the subpoena, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidyanti were asked to explain the motive for posting the video to the Coordinating Minister. In addition, the two defenders were asked to apologize in five days to the Minister through Haris Azhar's YouTube channel, mass media, and online media and promise not to repeat the act. The subpoena mentions that if an apology is not made, legal actions will be taken against the human rights defenders.

Download the urgent appeal.

Haris Azhar is a human rights defender in Indonesia. He previously served as the Coordinator of Commission for the Disappeared and Victim of Violence (KontraS) a nation wide group and community of NGOs operating in Indonesia since 2010. Haris Azhar has contributed to human rights and public interest litigation cases, events, campaigns and publications for promoting and defending human rights in Indonesia and South East Asia. The human rights defender had also served as a member of the Executive Committee of FORUM-ASIA and has been the Deputy Chair of INFID-Indonesia, which are both prominent human rights organizations.

Fatia Maulidiyanti is a woman human rights defender and the Coordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a prominent human rights organization in Indonesia established in 1998. She has been involved in various civil society movements since she was in the university, namely student press, working on various human rights issues such as death penalty, business and human rights, unfair trial, human rights defenders and human rights in conflict. She is also the founder of a book donation community for death-row inmates called Books For Tomorrow.

In the online video for which the human rights defenders are facing legal action, Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti discussed the research results of several human rights organizations, such as KontraS, Walhi, Jatam, YLBHI, and Pusaka, about the business of Indonesian Army officials and retirees behind the gold mining business and their plan to exploit the Blok Wabu area in Intan Jaya, Papua.

The subpoena issued by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment has mentioned that Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti will face charges under Article 27 paragraph (3) of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law concerning defamation, and Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code concerning attacking someone’s honor and reputation with accusations and defamation respectively. However, the Criminal Code also contains relevant justifications for the posting of the talk show under Article 310 paragraph (3), which states, “it does not constitute defamation if the act is carried out in the public interest”.

Human rights defender Haris Azhar has been a target of similar reprisals in the past. On 28 July 2016, the human rights defender published an article on Facebook alleging the involvement of Indonesian police officials in corrupt activities, including the acceptance of bribes from an international drug trafficking network. On 2 August 2016, three government agencies, the BNN, the TNI, and the National Police, filed a joint defamation complaint against Haris Azhar under the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions Law. Following public pressure, on 10 August 2016, the National Police announced that they have set up an independent team to investigate the alleged involvement of security officials in drug trafficking.

It has been observed by human rights defenders in Indonesia that government officials are abusing their power by using the Electronic, Information, and Transactions Law to silence activists or human rights defenders in the country.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the subpoena issued against Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar as it believes that they are being targeted for their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.