Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment files lawsuit against human rights defenders

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The former military general and incumbent Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan (see photo), filed a lawsuit against KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) coordinator, Fatia Maulidianti, and executive director of human rights NGO Lokataru, Haris Azhar, on 22 September 2021. The human rights activists discussed joint research findings of possible relations between security force deployments and economic interests behind gold mining operations in the Papuan regency Intan Jaya in a video that was uploaded on Azhar’s YouTube Channel on 20 August 2021. Previously, Panjaitan had twice sent a subpoena to the activists, asking them to apologize for the allegations raised against him publicly.

Luhut Binsar Panjaitan’s lawyer, Juniver Girsang, declared on 22 September 2021 that Panjaitan has reported the activists for the alleged violation of the Indonesian Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE Law) and the Indonesian Penal Code (KUHP) to the police. Furthermore, Panjaitan plans to file a civil lawsuit against Mrs Maulidyanti and Mr Azhar, demanding the activists pay 100 billion rupiahs (about six million Euro) compensation for alleged defamation. During an interview in front of the police headquarters in Jakarta, his lawyer announced that the money would be donated to “the Papuan people” if Luhut Panjaitan won the lawsuit.

On 15 September 2021, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) published an urgent appeal in which the organisation condemned the attempted criminalisation of Fatia Maulidaynti and Haris Azhar. Public criticism towards the government and officials is part of a healthy democracy. Civil society organisations have the duty to monitor and supervise the Government performance, ensuring clean governance, free from corruption and nepotism.