Human rights forecast poor for '09

Human rights forecast poor for '09

The Jakarta Post
Adianto P. Simamora

The protection of human rights across Indonesia is expected to remain bleak next year because most political parties contesting the upcoming elections lack clear vision on human rights issues, a study shows.

The study, jointly conducted by the Setara Institute and the Indonesia Legal and Human Rights Association (PBHI), found both new and old parties showed poor commitment to promoting human rights.

"None of the political parties have prioritized protecting human rights," said a report from the study released Monday.

The report said the Democratic Party, founded by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Vice President Jusuf Kalla's Golkar Party were among those with the worst stance on protecting human rights.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) won praise for supporting human rights.

"Most parties will only voice an opinion on human rights if it does not create a negative image for them," the report said.

The study assessed the political parties' missions and visions, their response to rights cases and their stance during the deliberations of laws related to human rights issues.

There are currently 38 parties taking part in the 2009 legislative elections, with 24 of them -- mostly senior ones -- including human rights issues in their policy package.

The study said 14 parties, including the Indonesian Entrepreneurs and Workers Party, the National People's Concern Party, the National Front Party, the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party, the Development Functional Party, the Patriotic Party and the Republican Party, failed to outline a human rights agenda in their political platforms.

"From the assessment, most parties do not recognize the concept of human rights protection," it said.

The study also assessed responses from the parties to human rights cases reported to the House of Representatives, such as capital punishment, the shooting incidents in the Trisakti and Semanggi cases, the murder of noted human rights activist Munir, the abduction of democracy activists and violence against minority religious groups.

It also evaluated the opinions raised by parties during the deliberation of human rights bills in the House, including those on pornography, investment and mining.

The study found all parties supported the death penalty for serious crimes, which technically violates international principles of human rights.

"The parties have no initiative to eliminate capital punishment from the Indonesian legal system," it said.

The National Commission on Human Rights recorded an increase in the number of death-row convicts executed this year.

From January to July, six people faced firing squads, the last being the three Bali bombers -- Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, his elder brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra.

The study said parties also offered mixed reactions to the House's plan to revive investigations into military-linked abduction of activists.

"Many parties, including Golkar and the Democratic Party, strongly rejected the reopening of these cases."