Jakarta, 4 December 2023 – The criminalization case against Fatia Maulidiyanti (KontraS Coordinator 2020-2023) and Haris Azhar (Founder of Lokataru) has entered the stage of reading the reply submitted by the Public Prosecutor (JPU). In their reply, the prosecutor said that Haris and Fatia had made mistakes and misunderstood the case, obscuring the truth and facts. The prosecutors also argued that there is a principle of equality before the law and this trial was held without favoritism to refute the pleas presented by Haris, Fatia, and their legal advisors. This statement clearly ignores the facts of the trial, because in the agenda for the examination of the reporter, in this case Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, privilege is really visible.
The prosecutors were also very tendentious by stating that Haris and Fatia’s defense was a desperate attempt to refute the prosecutors’ demands. They added that both Fatia and Haris asked for privileges, not equality before the law. The conclusion is clearly and entirely wrong and is not supported by evidence. The matters conveyed by the Prosecutor regarding delays in the evidentiary process due to experts not being present were actually carried out by the prosecutor themselves. The prosecutors even irresponsibly eliminated the testimony of witnesses and experts who had previously been presented at the investigative level.
In this hearing, the prosecutor also rejected all arguments and alleged that there were many obscure facts in the plea reading last week. In his reply, the Prosecutor again attempted to separate the podcast on Haris Azhar’s YouTube account from the research results of nine civil society organizations regarding military operations in Papua. Even though it was clear that it was in accordance with the evidence and facts at the trial, the authors presented, namely Ahmad Ashof, Ikbal Damanik and Wahyu, stated that the results of the podcast were in accordance with the results of the rapid study.
Furthermore, the prosecutor actually argued that this trial was to prove material truth and required mens rea (or criminal intent) in addition to actus reus. However, if we look back at the trial process, it was actually the prosecutor who failed to prove the element of mens rea in the defamation action. The narrative that was built was even made up and based on fabrication, seen in the narrative of activists asking for shares, wanting to gain profits from YouTube by mentioning Luhut’s name, all of which was not clearly proven in the trial process.
Apart from that, we assess that the Prosecutor is very tendentious in accusing the work of civil society by stating that people who pretend to be holy, but are haters, do injustice to those they don’t like. This narrative is truly a serious accusation and an attempt to discredit the work of civil society. In fact, for a long time civil society activities have essentially been a form of correction and demanding accountability, so they have helped the government a lot.
The Prosecutors, yet again, were also focused on various regulations regarding restrictions on human rights. Even though it has been emphasized on various occasions that freedom of expression can indeed be limited, as long as it is in accordance with international human rights law standards. From the start, no one has postulated that the right to freedom of expression is absolute or cannot be limited. This narrative was constructed by the prosecutor himself without any evidentiary basis.
In this agenda, we also take issue with the statement in the replica which states that it is impossible for the Prosecutor to block criticism because it is the heart of democracy. Bringing this case to the trial stage is actually a form of prosecutors trying to undermine democracy. Prosecutors even standardize criticism by stating that criticism must be constructive, with solutions, not personal attacks, and polite. This shows that the prosecutor has again failed to understand the difference between criticism of public officials and insults.
Another one of the ridiculous statements from the prosecutor, that the charges in this case could be used as a lesson for other people and a deterrent effect for people who commit insults. The prosecutor’s desired goals will certainly not be achieved. What is happening is actually building a climate of fear among society to criticize, causing democracy to continue to deteriorate and leading this country to the brink of authoritarianism.
Another thing that is certainly problematic is of course when the prosecutor states that the demands presented by the prosecutor are the will of the community and legal justice. However, the prosecutor did not mention evidence of the community’s will. Facts on the ground actually show the opposite, solidarity towards Haris and Fatia continues to strengthen to urge the judge to release these two human rights defenders.
Prosecutors will always build unreasonable public opinion, such as stating that Haris and Fatia spread false information at the national and international levels. Having no sense of citizenship, not being a civilized society and other tendentious accusations. Instead of making accusations like this, the prosecutor should be able to focus on counter-argumenting our arguments in the defense note.
In general, we consider that the answers submitted by the Prosecutor in his reply do not at all answer substantially the entire contents of the plea. The prosecutor actually continued to build a misleading and false narrative, and emphasized that the charges that had been read out were a form of malicious prosecution. Apart from that, the prosecutor tried to bury the facts and gave the impression that they are defending Luhut to the utmost in defending the public interest.
Nurkholis Hidayat (Advocacy Team for Democracy)
Arif Maulana (Advocacy Team for Democracy)
Andi Muhammad Rezaldy (Advocacy Team for Democracy)