|Subject: Imparsial appeals lawsuit against
a senior Indonesian intelligence official
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
The Jakarta Post Friday, December 14, 2007
Imparsial appeals rejected lawsuit
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Human rights watchdog Imparsial is seeking to appeal a court ruling that rejected its lawsuit against a senior Indonesian intelligence official.
Imparsial filed in February a suit with the Central Jakarta District Court accusing the chief of the Indonesian Military's Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) Maj. Gen. Syafnil Armen of breaching the 1945 Convention and the 1999 Human Rights Law.
"Our right to dissent is guaranteed. Yet, BAIS had listed us as a radical group and a security risk. If such action is tolerated it will set a dangerous precedent for the preservation of democracy," executive director of Imparsial Rachland Nashidik told a media gathering here Thursday.
Imparsial, alongside Kontras and another human rights organization, Elsham, were classified as radical organizations and labeled as a threat to the sanctity of the state ideology Pancasila in an intelligence report presented by Syafnil at a closed-door Defense Ministry seminar last year.
Imparsial subsequently filed a civil lawsuit in February, charging the BAIS chief with violations of the 1945 Constitution and the 1999 Human Rights Law, both of which guarantee Indonesian citizens the freedom to express opinions and to dissent.
Presiding Judge I Ketut Manika of the Central Jakarta District Court, however, rejected the suit Wednesday, saying the fact that the report was presented in a closed-door setting in which the Chatham House Rule applied. The rule governs the confidentiality of the source of information received at a meeting.
"The real issue here isn't about the forum in which the views were presented, but rather the fact that they were the result of an intelligence study by BAIS; an organization with a scope of operations that goes beyond the walls of the venue," Rachland said.
"What BAIS did is against the Constitution because Imparsial's right to dissent is a constitutional right," human rights activist Asmara Nababan said.
He added that the legal recourse of lawsuits should also be seen as a means to facilitate reforms within the military.
"Taking our case to the court is just one of many ways to uphold our constitutional rights in a democracy. We're seeing remnants of the New Order regime in BAIS's activity, so our legal challenge should pave the way for the new (Indonesian Military) chief to rectify the situation within that organization," he said.
According to Imparsial's lawyer, Harry Ponto, despite the justice system's bad reputation, his clients were still hopeful about the appeal process.
"If you ask why we are even trying, it's because we have hope that there are still good judges out there. We are hoping the panel of judges at the appeals court will be among them, and
that they will carefully review our case and make a difference," he said.
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