The defamation trial against Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar is ongoing!
Two human rights defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azharare facing criminal charges for speaking truth to power. Specifically, they were charged with criminal defamation under Articles 27(3) and 45(3) of the amended Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law. Additionally, Haris faces another charge under Article 55(1) of the Criminal Code, while Fatia faces further allegations under Article 310 of the Criminal Code–“attacking someone’s honor or reputation with accusations.”
The charges came after the two appeared, in 2021, on a YouTube video on Haris’ channel discussing findings from a multi-stakeholder report uncovering the alleged involvement of multiple Indonesian army officers (active and retired) in the gold mining business in Papua.
Image credit: Haris Azhar
In the report, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment–also being the person who filed the charges–was identified as being affiliated with a mining company which holds the Derewo River Gold Project permit in Papua Province.
Trials of Fatia and Haris
The trials started in April 2023 and on June 8, the sixth hearing of the two HRDs took place at the East Jakarta Court. The plaintiff, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, denied having any involvement in the mining exploitation in Papua, maintaining his stance that the two defamed him by making such false allegations.
Fatia and Haris have not only been unnecessarily harassed, but there is also a blatant lack of transparency during this ongoing trial, especially during the hearing on June 8:
Security forces prevented public defenders from entering the court.
While the two had the right to legal assistance, their lawyers were prevented from attending the trial.
Several journalists who were late were not allowed access into the court to cover the trial.
This hearing happened behind closed doors, as opposed to the previous five hearings.
This hearing was initially scheduled for May 29, 2023, but Luhut did not attend on the basis of being abroad at the time. However, the claim appears to be false! According to the Minister of Finance of the Republic Indonesia, Sri Mulyani Indrawati’s official Instagram account, Luhut was present at an internal meeting with colleagues from the Cabinet of Indonesia Maju taking place at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on the day of the hearing. Moreover, the judges had specifically selected a date that would best fit Luhut.
During the hearing on June 8, Luhut emphasized that “there must be no abuse of power” yet this is against everything that is happening: Fatia and Haris are being prosecuted for exercising their freedom of speech.
Another two hearings were held on June 12 and 19. They were centered around the examination of witnesses from the public prosecutor’s side. During the June 12 session, two individuals from Luhut's media staff testified. On June 19, a representative from PT Madinah Qurrata'ain, a mining company in Papua reportedly linked to Luhut, testified and denied any claims of Luhut's ownership stake in the company. The trial was interrupted due to a development regarding Fatia's family and is set to resume on June 26.
The judicial harassment of the two human rights defenders is unacceptable! They are being trialed for documenting and exposing abuses by those in power. Their courage to speak about injustices is having disproportionate repercussions, showing that freedom of speech in Indonesia remains highly restricted.
❗We are deeply concerned about the shrinking space for human rights in the Southeast Asian region.
✊Manushya Foundation condemns the obvious bias displayed by the judiciary in Indonesia right now and the lack of transparency in this trial! Digital rights are a fundamental freedom in our society, especially in authoritarian states where there are hardly any ways of exposing abuses. The repressive laws are being used to serve personal interests, to repress, and instill fear.
We will not tolerate the ongoing abuse of activists, journalists, and pro-democracy fighters!
#WeAreManushyan ♾ Equal Human Beings
👉Have a look at our previous work following Fatia and Haris, and our fight for democracy in the region:
Joint solidarity statement: “Stop Abusing Cyberlaw and Criminal Defamation to Harass Human Rights Defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar & to Stop Them from Speaking Truth to Power!”, September 21, 2021
Joint solidarity statement: “Indonesia: Government should end the judicial harassment and immediately withdraw arbitrary charges against defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar,” September 23, 2021
#StopDigitalDictatorship Campaign in Southeast Asia
Joint Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression: Freedom, Independence, Diversity of Media and the Safety of Journalists in Southeast Asia, January 2022
Joint statement: Global Coalition of NGOs: Repeal MR5 and its amendment MR10 in Indonesia, July 2, 2022
Human Rights Day post detailing Indonesia’s New Criminal Code and its major threats to human rights, December 9, 2022
International Federation for Human Rights, Indonesia: Judicial harassment against Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar, (March 31, 2023), available at: https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/indonesia-judicial-harassment-against-fatia-maulidiyanti-and-haris
Tempo, Luhut Pandjaitan at Defamation Trial: There Is No Absolute Freedom, (June 8, 2023), available at: https://en.tempo.co/read/1735021/luhut-pandjaitan-at-defamation-trial-there-is-no-absolute-freedom
Amnesty International Indonesia, Twitter post from June 8, 2023, available at: https://twitter.com/amnestyindo/status/1666651267249377280?s=20
Amnesty International Indonesia, Twitter post from June 8, 2023, available at: https://twitter.com/amnestyindo/status/1666654062832680961?s=20
Voi, Luhut Calls Not Having Material Losses In The Defamation Case, (June 8, 2023), available at: https://voi.id/ja/news/285459
Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Official Instagram account post from May 29, 2023, available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cs2cfVdpV-g/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
Shaleh Al-Ghifari, public interest lawyer and member of Advocates Team for Democracy, in communication with Manushya Foundation
KontraS, Twitter post from May 29, 2023, available at: https://twitter.com/KontraSupdates/status/1663106130984460289?s=20
Amnesty International Indonesia, Twitter post from June 8, 2023, available at: https://twitter.com/amnestyindo/status/1666667118157512704?s=20
Certain information was obtained by Manushya Foundation by directly engaging with individuals connected to the matter at hand.