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Nine years after killing of rights defender, Indonesia has failed to deliver full justice

A placard depicting human rights activist Munir Thalib is displayed during a rally in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta, 8 December 2005
A placard depicting human rights activist Munir Thalib is displayed during a rally in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta, 8 December 2005

REUTERS/Dadang Tri

Nine years after the killing of human rights defender Munir Said Thalib, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must take decisive and concrete action to ensure those responsible - including those at the highest levels - are brought to justice, and that all defenders of human rights are better protected.

President Yudhoyono, who has himself described Munir's case as a “test of our history” has just one year of his presidency remaining, in which to ensure full justice and reparations are delivered. The President's failure so far to do so, at a time the protection of human rights defenders across the country remains seriously under threat, raises serious questions about his legacy.

One of Indonesia's most prominent human rights campaigners, Munir took up the cause of dozens of activists who had been subjected to enforced disappearance. He co-founded two human rights organizations, helped to uncover evidence of military responsibility for human rights violations in Aceh, Papua and Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor), and made recommendations to the government on bringing high-ranking officials to justice. In September 1999, he was appointed to the Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP-HAM).

On 7 September 2004, Munir was found dead on a flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands. An autopsy carried out by the Dutch authorities showed that he had been poisoned with arsenic.

Munir had been in constant danger as a result of his human rights work. In 2002 and 2003, his office was attacked, and in August 2003, a bomb exploded outside his home in Bekasi, West Java.

Although three people have now been convicted for their involvement in Munir's death, there are credible allegations that those responsible for his death at the highest levels have not been brought to justice. Further, President Yudhoyono has still not published a 2005 report into Munir's killing by an independent fact-finding team, despite such a recommendation in his decree on its establishment.

The continuing lack of full accountability for Munir's killing is a chilling reminder to human rights defenders in Indonesia of the dangers they face and the utter disregard Indonesian authorities have for their crucial work.

We, the undersigned international, regional and local civil society organizations from Cambodia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Singapore and the United Kingdom therefore urge the President of Indonesia to ensure that the following steps are taken as a matter of priority:

* Publication of the 2005 report of the fact-finding team into Munir's killing as a key step towards establishing the truth;

* A new, independent investigation is initiated by the police into the murder of Munir to ensure that all perpetrators, at all levels, are brought to justice in accordance with international human rights standards;

* A review of past criminal proceedings is conducted by the Attorney General into Munir's killing, including alleged violations of international human rights standards; in particular, investigate reports of witness intimidation and bring those suspected of committing them to justice;

* Effective steps are taken to ensure that human rights violations committed against all human rights defenders are promptly, effectively and impartially investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice in fair trials; and

* The passage of specific legislation aimed at providing better legal protection for human rights defenders.

This joint statement is endorsed by:

1. ACAT (Action des Chrétiens pour l'Abolition de la Torture), France
2. Aceh Online, Indonesia
3. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma)
4. Amnesty International
5. ARTICLE 19
6. Arus Pelangi, Indonesia
7. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Indonesia
8. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
9. Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong
10. Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
11. Asian Muslim Action Network, Indonesia
12. Asia Pacific Human Rights Coalition, New Zealand
13. Asosiasi LBH APIK, Indonesia
14. Badan Advokasi Rakyat (BARA) Persatuan Indonesia (Perindo)
15. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia
16. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
17. Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
18. Center for Human Rights Law Studies (HRLS) Faculty of Law, Airlangga University, Indonesia
19. Centre for Human Rights Studies University of Surabaya, Indonesia
20. Center for Human Rights Studies of Islamic University of Indonesia
21. Children's Human Rights Foundation (Yayasan Pemantau Hak Anak/YPHA), Indonesia
22. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), Cambodia
23. Cross Cultural Foundation, Thailand
24. Dignity International
25. FORUM-ASIA (Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development)
26. Foundation Pro Papua, the Netherlands
27. GANDA Filipinas, Philippines
28. Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), Cambodia
29. Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, UK
30. Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand, New Zealand
31. Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) Indonesia
32. IMBAS, Germany
33. IMPARSIAL, The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor
34. Indonesia for Humans, Indonesia
35. Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA)
36. Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI)
37. Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI), Indonesia
38. Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), Indonesia
39. Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), Indonesia
40. Judicial Support Monitoring Programme (JSMP), Timor-Leste
41. Justice for Peace Foundation, Thailand
42. Kalyanamitra Foundation, Indonesia
43. Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia untuk Keadilan dan Demokrasi (Indonesian Women's Coalition for Justice and Democracy)
44. KontraS (Commission for The Disappeared and Victims of Violence), Indonesia
45. LBH Masyarakat (The Community Legal Aid Institute), Indonesia
46. LIPS (Sedane Labour Resource Centre/Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane), Indonesia
47. LRC-KJHAM (Legal Resources Center for Gender Justice and Human Rights), Indonesia
48. MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
49. Mauerpark Institut, Germany
50. Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI), Philippines
51. Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defender (a joint programme of International Federation for Human Rights/FIDH and World Organization Against Torture/OMCT)
52. Our Voice, Indonesia
53. Pax Christi, New Zealand
54. Pax Romana-ICMICA
55. Peace Women Across the Globe Indonesia, Indonesia
56. Peoples' Empowerment Foundation (PEF), Thailand
57. Pergerakan Indonesia
58. Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran), Malaysia
59. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines
60. Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PHILRIGHTS), Philippines
61. Philippines Migrant Centre, New Zealand
62. Protection International
63. Reclasseering Indonesia
64. Rumpun Tjoet Nyak Dien, Indonesia
65. Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, (SADIA), Borneo, Malaysia
66. SCN - CREST, Indonesia
67. Sehjira Deaf Foundation, Indonesia
68. Solidaritas Perempuan (Women's Solidarity for Human Rights), Indonesia
69. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)
70. Sawit Watch, Indonesia
71. Serikat Jurnalis untuk Keberagaman, SEJUK (Journalist Association for Pluralism and Diversity), Indonesia
72. Setara Institute, Indonesia
73. Solidaritas Perempuan (Women's Solidarity for Human Rights). Indonesia
74. Solidarity for Asian Peoples' Advocacy (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN
75. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
76. TAPOL, United Kingdom
77. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Philippines
78. Tafena Tabua Society, Kupang, Indonesia
79. Thai Volunteer Service Foundation (TVS), Thailand
80. Terre des hommes Germany in Southeast Asia.
81. The Initiatives for International Dialog (IID)
82. The Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
83. Think Centre, Singapore
84. Watch Indonesia!, Germany
85. Women Corp of Indonesian Moslem Student Movement (KOPRI PB PMII)
86. Yayasan Mandiri Kreatif Indonesia (Yamakindo), Indonesia
87. Yayasan Transformasi Lepra Indonesia (YTLI), Indonesia
88. Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam, Indonesia
89. Youth for Peace Cambodia
90. Youth Resource Development Program, YRDP-Cambodia

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