PRESS STATEMENT RESPONSE TO THE NEWS RELEASE BY THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ON 15 DESEMBER 2021

December 16, 2021 Topics, Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues
1. The Government of the Republic of Indonesia condemns the libelous statement made by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor through the news release titled “Indonesia: Stop reprisals against human rights defender – UN Expert”, published on 15 December 2021.

2. This news release signals a pattern of unconstructive and baseless media attacks against Indonesia that has repeatedly been conducted by the aforementioned Special Rapporteur. The Government of Indonesia will not stand idly by as the Special Rapporteur in question continues to undermine and sabotage the framework of cooperation and trust between States and Special Procedures Mandate Holders.

3. The title and first paragraph of the Special Rapporteur’s aforementioned news release is in itself already blatantly misleading, as it implies that the Government of Indonesia is somehow involved in committing “threats, intimidation, and reprisals against human rights defender Veronica Koman”, hence should “immediately stop” such actions.

4. The Government of Indonesia fully rejects such misinformed, false, and crude framing of the unfortunate incidents involving Ms. Koman’s family. The fact of the matter is that the Indonesian national police, including the Indonesian anti-terror unit Densus 88 and the forensics unit, has been conducting an active investigation into the aforesaid case.

5. The Government of Indonesia also categorically rejects the Special Rapporteur’s proposterous attempt to force a nexus between the incidents in question with the criminal charges brought against Ms. Koman in 2019 due to her alleged involvement in inciting a riot, spreading fake news, displaying race-based hatred, and disseminating information aimed at inflicting ethnic hatred.

6. In 2019, an arrest warrant was issued for Ms. Veronica Koman, following her failure to respond to two summons issued by the police pertaining to the abovementioned criminal cases. The Indonesian National Police had gathered sufficient evidence to determine Ms. Koman as a suspect in spreading fake news, inciting hate, and provoking riots through her social media platforms, particularly in relation to the riots in the Province of Papua.

7. In accordance to Article 112 Code of Criminal Procedure, all citizens have the duty to respond to a police summons. If one fails to do so, the police have the right to compel the person to answer the summons. Hence, this prompts the issuance of her arrest warrant. This forms part of the due process of law, applicable to all citizens.

8. As a country governed by the rule of law, the Government of Indonesia also rejects the Special Rapporteur’s call for the Government “to drop the charges against her (Ms. Koman)…”. This call not only undermines the principles of equality before the law, but is also a projection of the Special Rapporteur’s inherent bias against the pursuit of justice, and the support of the very disturbing narrative that somehow, human rights defenders are immune to criminal prosecution, despite strong evidence indicating otherwise.

9. The Government of Indonesia deeply regrets the Special Rapporteur’s unconstructive pattern of actions, in particular her failure to pursue any form of dialogue with Indonesia, as the concerned country, as well as her total disregard of the special procedures communications mechanism.

Geneva,  15 December 2021