Monday, December 19, 2016

Indonesia: Human Rights Watch Says Ahok Likely to be Found Guilty


Of 300 blasphemy cases after the 1998 reform, only 130-odd cases were sent to court. “Almost all [defendants] were found guilty. Only a few were acquitted.”

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: Tempo News
By Tempo | December 19, 2016

Jakarta (TEMPO.CO) - Andreas Harsono, a researcher at the Human Rights Watch (HRW), said that inactive Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s acquittal in blasphemy case is highly unlikely.

Data collected by the HRW indicate that blasphemy cases brought to court in Indonesia rarely end in acquittals.

“Based on the statistics, [defendants] were found guilty in almost all cases,” Andreas told Tempo at Tjikini Lima restaurant in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Sunday, December 18, 2016.

Public prosecutor Ali Mukartono had accused Ahok of insulting Islam in his remarks about surah al-Maida, verse 51 of the Quran made on Pramuka Island, the Seribu Islands, North Jakarta.

Blasphemy case charges have been rife after the 1998 reform. Andreas gathered that Indonesia has seen 300 blasphemy reports.

There were 60 blasphemy cases during president Soeharto era. Andreas, however, admits that the number may be greater because it is difficult to verify every case in Indonesia.

Of 300 blasphemy cases after the 1998 reform, only 130-odd cases were sent to court. “Almost all [defendants] were found guilty. Only a few were acquitted,” Andreas said.

He said blasphemy law has always been controversial because it is prone to abuse. Many countries have in fact abolished blasphemy law following the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the United Nations (UN) in 1966.

Only 26 percent of UN members still implement such law. Pakistan is the most active in using blasphemy law. This year alone, some 14 individuals are awaiting death penalty while 19 are facing life imprisonment for blasphemy.

As such, Andreas said he would not be surprised of Ahok is sent to jail. “Ahok will not be acquitted,” he said. “I hope I will be proven wrong,” he added.

Watchdog Aliansi Sipil untuk Konstitusi (Amsik) has pointed out irregularities in law enforcement over Ahok’s blasphemy case.

“Indictment against Ahok with Article 156 (a) of the Criminal Code by omitting Law No. 1 PNPS/1995, in my opinion, was made without due process of law,” Muannas Alaidid of Amsik told Tempo yesterday at the same place.

The man who is also a member of litigation team Komunitas Advokat Muda Basuki Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat (Kotak Badja) said that Ahok should have been given earlier warning in accordance with Article 2 (1) of Law No. 1 PNPS.

Similar case happened to musician Ahmad Dhani who was accused of blasphemy in 2005 after he stood on a stage drawn with calligraphy in his concert. “He [Ahmad Dhani] stood on the calligraphy and had later apologized and then the case ended,” Muannas said.

Muannas considers that in Ahok’s case, the issue should have already been resolved when Ahok apologized to Indonesian Muslims. Police have instead gone ahead with a probe of blasphemy case and named Ahok suspect.

“I see that the trial against Ahok is held due to mass pressure instead of proper and fair legal process,” he said.


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