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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07JAKARTA3348
2007-12-07 10:13:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Jakarta
Cable title:  

HUMAN RIGHTS -- PROTECTING CIVIL LIBERTIES IN

Tags:   PGOV  KJUS  PHUM  PREL  EAID  ID 
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VZCZCXRO6178
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #3348/01 3411013
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071013Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7318
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1722
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2128
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1478
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 003348 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, DRL, DRL/PHD, INR/EAP
NSC FOR EPHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS PHUM PREL EAID ID
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS -- PROTECTING CIVIL LIBERTIES IN
INDONESIAN LAW

REF: A. 2006 JAKARTA 13476

B. 2006 JAKARTA 12607

C. 2006 JAKARTA 03159



1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please
handle accordingly.



2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Indonesia's new democracy continues to
tackle thorny issues. A coalition of civil society groups
has been lobbying hard to ensure that the new draft criminal
code adequately protects civil liberties, a new concept for
institutions recovering from authoritarian and colonial
legacies. On December 5--as part of this ongoing
campaign--the coalition held a public seminar to discuss key
issues with the GOI. Mission is providing support to this
process. END SUMMARY.

A CODE THAT NEEDS REVISING



3. (SBU) Reform of the current criminal code (KUHP)--in
place since the Dutch colonial office enacted it in 1918--has
stalled for decades. The Ministry of Law and Human Rights
reinvigorated debate on the matter in 2004. Despite
widespread recognition that the code is anachronistic and
authoritarian-leaning, the latest draft of the criminal
code--while an improvement on the colonial code--does not
fully respect civil liberties. Human rights activists and
legal scholars have recently organized to advocate for
revisions that better protect human rights (ref B). In the
past year, a major civil society coalition has engaged in
intensive engagement with the GOI's legal drafting team.
USAID has assisted this group (see below).

PRESSING THE CIVIL LIBERTIES ANGLE



4. (SBU) DepPol/C attended a December 5 public seminar
organized by the National Alliance for Criminal Code Reform,
where civil society experts discussed with key GOI officials
the impact of criminal law reform on human rights. DepPol/C
discussed the advocacy efforts of the civil society coalition
with Gordon West and Andrew Thornley of Democratic Reform
Support Program (DRSP), the USAID partner supporting the
civil society campaign.



5. (SBU) West, the DRSP country representative, told us that
the biggest concerns with the draft of the KUHP now under
review are the freedom of expression and defamation clauses.
Forty-nine articles in the draft relate directly to freedom
of expression, defamation, slander and the press--potentially
undermining the landmark 1999 Press Law, which provided
protection for press freedom. Thornley told us that a major
freedom of expression issue in the draft KUHP is that slander
and libel are not clearly defined. Journalists and other
professionals can be jailed and lose their professional
licenses--and thus lose their jobs--for comments deemed as
insults against the president, vice-president, or government,
which are also deemed to have promoted civil unrest, Thornley
said. This, despite a 2006 Constitutional Court decision
that struck down three articles in the existing criminal code
that made insulting leaders a crime (ref. A). Other clauses
could impact religious freedom.



6. (SBU) According to West, 400 plus articles of the latest
draft of the KUHP relate to human rights. In a conversation
with poloff, Bivitri Susanti, Executive Director of the
Indonesian Center for Law and Policy Studies (PSHK), said
that even if the draft bill is submitted to parliament (DPR)
soon, legislators could take years to review the over 700
articles of the new draft. Therefore, according to
observers, passage of a new criminal code before the 2009
elections is very unlikely.

USG ASSISTANCE



7. (SBU) The U.S. has tried to help the process along.
Members of the coalition received advocacy training with USG
funding. The U.S. has urged inter-action with the Indonesian
government by civil society groups. The U.S. has also urged
civil society to work with the media and also with the DPR,
which must in the end approve any draft law. To enhance
civil society engagement with DPR, Mission is seeking to

JAKARTA 00003348 002 OF 002


arrange a roundtable between members of the coalition and
parliamentarians.

PROGNOSIS



8. (SBU) Under pressure by civil society to rewrite the
provisions of the draft code that would infringe on civil
liberties, the GOI is struggling to draft a law which would
appease ultra pro-"law and order" elements of the government
and pro-human rights civil society groups. The extended
deliberations may be a sign that the government is
considering the impact of draft legislation on human rights
and that ongoing civil society engagement in the process is
having a positive impact. That said, because of the
complexities involved, this whole process--which highlights
the new Indonesia's embrace of democratic norms--will take
time.

HUME