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Indonesia urged to reopen investigation into 1996 murder of journalist

On 3 May 2013, World Press Freedom Day, 23 signatory organisations called upon the Government of Indonesia to reopen investigations into the 1996 murder of investigative journalist Udin and to dedicate all necessary resources to identify and prosecute his killers before the statute of limitations on his murder runs out in August 2014.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,

We write to express our deep concern about the failure of the Yogyakarta police to identify and help prosecute the persons responsible for the murder of Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin, also known as Udin.

Udin was an investigative journalist of ten years for the daily newspaper Bernas. On 13 August 1996, he was attacked at his house by two unknown assailants, who severely beat him with a metal rod. He died as a consequence of his injuries on 16 August 1996.

Until this day, those responsible for Udin's death have not been brought to justice. The police botched the investigations and the trial of one alleged suspect has been widely considered as a sham. The signatory organisations therefore call upon the Government of Indonesia to ensure that proper investigations into Udin's death are conducted and to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted before the statute of limitations for this crime under Indonesian law expires on 16 August 2014.

We would like to remind the Government of Indonesia in this context that, as an ASEAN Member State, it is obliged to respect the principle contained in Article 2 sub 2(i) of the ASEAN Charter, which requires "respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice." In addition, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration specifically protects the right to freedom of expression (Article 23) and the right to life (Article 11).

We furthermore remind the Government of Indonesia that as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is legally bound to respect, guarantee and uphold the right to freedom of expression protected by Article 19 of the Covenant, which includes the obligation to ensure that any attacks on journalists are vigorously investigated in a timely fashion, the perpetrators are prosecuted, and the victims, or, in the case of killings, their representatives, receive appropriate forms of redress.

Finally, we would like to remind the Government of Indonesia that allowing a culture of impunity to thrive by acquiescence, i.e. by failing to prosecute those responsible for attacks on journalists like Udin, can amount to a violation of the Government of Indonesia's obligation to protect the right to life as guaranteed by Article 6 of the ICCPR when such attacks lead to the death of the victims.

We call upon the Government of Indonesia to reopen investigations into the murder of Udin and to dedicate all necessary resources to identify and prosecute his killers before the statute of limitations on his murder runs out in August 2014. No reasonable efforts should be spared to bring to justice those responsible for this reprehensible crime.

Yours sincerely,

Aliansi Jurnalis Independen/Alliance of Independent Journalists
ARTICLE 19
Committee to Protect Journalists
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Reporters Without Borders
Southeast Asian Press Alliance

Other signatories

LBH Pers
Media Legal Defence Initiative
Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH) Pers Padang
Commission of the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
Surabaya Legal Aid Institute for the Press - Indonesia
Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jakarta
Imparsial
Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute for the Press (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Pers Yogyakarta) - Indonesia
Pewarta Foto Indonesia (PFI) Padang
Demos Indonesia
Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Yogyakarta
LBH Jakarta
IKOHI (Ikatan Keluarga Orang Hilang Indonesia)
Elsam
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation
Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Pers Makassar
Media Defence - Southeast Asia

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