Jakarta, 13 November 2023 – The Criminalization case of Fatia Maulidiyanti (KontraS Coordinator 2020 – 2023 and Haris Azhar (Cofounder of Lokataru) finally reached the stage of indictment reading by the Public Prosecutor (JPU). Before the prosecutor read the document, we submitted documentary evidence that we had previously presented during the examination of witnesses and experts. This documentary evidence aims to strengthen the proof that both Fatia and Haris are innocent and must be declared free from all charges.
In opening the prosecution letter, the prosecutor was very tendentious in stating to stop using human rights, anti-corruption, and environmental issues in Papua as an excuse to escape criminal responsibility. Apart from that, we also highlight the Prosecutor’s narrative attacking the ways in which legal advisors and spectators were deemed to have created chaos during the hearing. This is very problematic, because the prosecutor not only undermined the dignity of Fatia and Haris, but also the sense of solidarity that had been built up among civil society groups.
The prosecutor also took issue with the witness and expert evidence sessions because they were deemed not objective and not based on oaths. This accusation is very serious, apart from doubting the capacity of the witnesses and experts we presented, it also alleges that the statements of the witnesses and experts we presented were manipulative and full of deceit. In fact, the attitude of the witnesses and experts we have presented so far has been very cooperative and answered all questions presented. Those which were not answered were responses from our witnesses and experts to foolish and unnecessary questions by the prosecutor.
To our end, the things conveyed by the prosecutor during the prosecution override the examination process of witnesses and experts at trial. The prosecutor did not mention the issue of freedom of expression, conflicts of interest of officials or the anti-SLAPP narrative that was conveyed during the examination process. The prosecutor also ignored the fact that the podcast was based on research in the form of a rapid study of civil society.
The process of indictment reading at this hearing increasingly emphasized that the prosecutor was truly defending Luhut’s interests, not the public’s interests. The prosecutor said that Luhut was not involved in mining practices in Papua at all. While in fact, in the process of proving the witness presented by the Prosecutor himself, namely Paulus Prananto, admitted that the company owned by Luhut had explored a mining business agreement in Intan Jaya with West Wits Mining and PT Qurrota Madinah Ain.
In discussing Human Rights Defenders, the Prosecutors stated that labeling Human Rights Defenders was not a justification for the actions taken by Fatia-Haris. The prosecutor actually directed that it was Luhut’s rights, dignity and good name that were violated by
Haris and Fatia. This paradigm is again wrong, since the criticism conveyed by these two human rights defenders was in Luhut’s capacity as a public official, not an individual. The prosecutor’s argument about insulting public officials once again confirms the prosecutor’s bias in prosecuting this case. As stated in the Joint Decree of the Minister of Communication and Information, the Attorney General and the National Police Chief stated that the victim as the reporter is an individual with a specific identity and not a profession, institution, corporation or position.
Furthermore, the prosecutor in his letter of demand also discussed the line between criticism and insult. In the statement, the Prosecutor quoted several expert opinions, which stated that criticism should be conveyed politely and constructively. In fact, what Fatia and Haris did was purely public criticism which is guaranteed in a democratic country.
We consider the contents of the indictment to be more ‘Luhut’ than Luhut, since several occasions mentioned Luhut’s feelings of being offended, his good name being tarnished and Luhut’s other inner attitudes. This is very excessive, because if we take a view at his track record, Luhut is a former general who had a decades-long career in military institutions. The things that the prosecutor read regarding Luhut’s feelings were exaggerated and seemed to want to frame Fatia and Haris based on the victim’s feelings and interests.
The demands are far-fetched, because many of the facts and arguments have been arranged haphazardly. For example, the prosecutor stated that Fatia was actively involved in preparing the content as evidenced by the act of compiling notes containing the names that would be mentioned before the podcast was conducted. This argument is of course not true, because in fact, when the video was recorded, Fatia only carried a quick study of 9 civil society groups.
Based on the demands by the Public Prosecutor, Haris Azhar’s actions were essentially declared to have fulfilled the criminal elements as regulated in Article 27 paragraph (3) jo. Article 45 paragraph (3) jo. ITE Law Article 55 to (1) of the Criminal Code. The demands put forward by the prosecutor are a sentence of 4 years and a fine of 1 million Rupiah, subsidiary to 6 months in prison. Apart from that, the prosecutor also requested that Haris Azhar’s YouTube link be removed from the internet. Meanwhile, Fatia was found guilty of violating the same article as Haris. The prosecutor’s demand for Fatia is 3 years and 6 months with 500,000 Rupiah subsidiary to 3 months in prison.
“We consider that this demand is far from objective. It is based on detest, not on relevant legal considerations. The facts explained are very tendentious and full of fabrication. The analytical construction that was built was very wrong, because it was based on wrong facts. The prosecutor did not at all mention any substance related to environmental damage, indigenous communities, or violence in Papua. In fact, the prosecutor stated that all the issues raised were fabrications. This certainly injures and insults the dignity of civil society’s struggle, especially in Papua.” Said Nurkholis Hidayat from the Advocacy Team for Democracy.
Nurkholis Hidayat added “We consider that the Prosecutor’s demands are part of Malicious Prosecution, because these demands are not based on the results of evidence at trial. The charges read by the prosecutor contain personal hostility, bias, or other reasons outside the interests of justice. This can be seen from the maximum criminal charge, namely 4 years imprisonment and the prosecutor stated that there was not a single mitigating reason.”
“This demand is a form of trampling on the law as well as a dangerous alarm for the democratic situation, especially civil liberties in Indonesia. Apart from that, this demand further emphasizes that the Prosecutor is a law enforcement institution that makes a major contribution to the poor human rights situation, especially freedom of expression. Prosecutors also act unprofessionally because they produce manipulative, malicious and political demands. Moreover, the use of the ITE Law once again confirms that this legal product is problematic, rubbery and erodes people’s digital rights.” Said Muhammad Isnur, Advocacy Team for Democracy.
Isnur added “The prosecutor even quoted from the buzzer at the end of his demand letter. This shows the dilapidation of the Judiciary institution so far. Apart from that, the prosecutor also made very serious accusations, because he considered civil society to have committed criminal acts but often argued for human rights and freedom.”
This demand again extends the series of steps to silence critical civil society voices. Apart from that, the prosecutor seems to want to convey the message that anyone who is harsh towards officials must be prepared to be prosecuted legally. Furthermore, there is a very strong message, namely building a climate of fear and there won’t be trials and errors necessary to be excused from freedom of expression and human rights.
Finally, this hearing process once again proves that the prosecutor is a tool of power to silence those who are different and shows the increasingly strong phenomenon of democratic regression.
Asfinawati (Tim Advokasi untuk Demokrasi)
Nurkholis Hidayat (Tim Advokasi untuk Demokrasi) Muhammad Isnur (Tim Advokasi untuk Demokrasi)
Andi Muhammad Rezaldy (Tim Advokasi untuk Demokrasi)