Indonesia: An audit of Human Rights reform

In May 1998, BJ Habibie assumed the Indonesian presidency promising reform. In the months which followed a series of initiatives were taken which indicated that the new government was indeed willing to address Indonesian's poor human rights record. Restrictions on political parties, independent trade unions, and the media have been relaxed. A number of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners have either been released, had the charges against them dropped or parole restrictions lifted. A bill on human rights and another giving greater powers to Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights are expected to be passed shortly. The government has also shown a greater willingness to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) on human rights, including by permitting two UN human rights thematic mechanisms to visit Indonesia and East Timor. While the measures which have been taken are welcome, there are still questions about the Habibie Government's commitment to human rights reform. The government has not fulfilled several of its own commitments or begun to address many of the legal and institutional changes needed to protect human rights. As a result the pattern of human rights violations - the arrest of individuals engaging in legitimate peaceful activities, torture, ill-treatment, 'disappearances' and unlawful killings - remains largely unchanged. Over 30 Indonesian prisoners of conscience continue to serve prison terms for their peaceful political activities. The government has not reviewed the convictions against political prisoners imprisoned following unfair trials. Legislation allowing for the imprisonment of individuals for the peaceful exercise of their beliefs remains on the statute books. A much publicised government commitment to repeal the Anti-subversion Law has not yet been fulfilled and there are fears that the government intends to incorporate some of its key provisions into the Criminal Code (KUHP) or a new national security law effectively rendering its repeal, when it eventually happens, meaningless. Some recent human rights violations by the military have been investigated and the alleged perpetrators brought to trial, but there has been no concerted effort towards ending impunity. The government has not yet established the mechanisms needed to ensure that there are systematic, full and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights and that perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice in civilian courts. While cooperating with the UN and other governments on training for the judiciary, the government is moving slowing in tackling the structural and legislative changes needed to create an independent and impartial judiciary. This document provides an audit of the human rights reforms which have been implemented so far and lists those measures which Amnesty International believes should be taken in order to bring about effective and durable human rights protection in Indonesia.

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