Summons of Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti: Continued Systematic Attacks on Human Rights Defenders!

On November 1,2022, By letter No. Spgl/X/RES.2.5/2022/Ditreskrimsus, Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar were again summoned to Polda Metro Jaya for further information on their status as suspects in the alleged defamation of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan. From the start, Luhut’s report was a form of a systematic attack on the work of human rights defenders. In addition, the continuation of this case process confirms the Police as a significant main actor in narrowing the space for civil liberties.

The continuation of the legal process against the two human rights defenders (according to the Komnas HAM Letter number 587/K-PMT/VII/2022) shows that freedom of expression/opinion is still a serious issue that law enforcement officials must understand. The steps taken by the Polda Metro Jaya to accommodate Luhut Binsar Panjaitan’s report show that the ITE Law is a problematic legal product because it is detrimental to the public.

We consider that the sentencing process seems forced considering several irregularities in the investigation process carried out by the Polda Metro Jaya, including the following: the application of the articles in the investigation did not meet the criminal requirements, the investigation process carried out by the Ditreskrimsus Polda Metro Jaya, in this case, violated the Joint Decree Letter (SKB) Implementation Guidelines The ITE Law, and the investigation process carried out by the Ditreskrimsus Polda Metro Jaya, in this case, contradict the Circular Letter of the Chief of Indonesian National Police on Ethical Cultural Awareness to Create a Clean, Healthy and Productive Digital Space in Indonesia.

More importantly, the Three Ministerial Decree on Guidelines for implementing the ITE Law has exceptions. The exceptions in the Three Ministerial Decree, among others, are if the content contains judgments, opinions, evaluation results, and field facts that are not included in criminal offenses. Therefore, we see that the sentencing process for Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti is an attack on human rights defenders with criminalization practices that have an impact on freedom of expression/public opinion.

The continuation of the sentencing process will be a contrary spirit of improving the police in the eyes of the public. The practice of silencing with various legal grounds against human rights defenders is not in line with the commitment to restorative justice in settlement of criminal cases and the transformation of the Precision Police. The police should be more selective in following up on cases and carefully distinguishing defamation from public criticism as a form of monitoring by civil society.

On this basis, we urges the Head of the Indonesian Police to stop attacks against human rights defenders to guarantee space for freedom of expression/opinion in Indonesia.