Resolution adopted without a vote* by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 161st session
(Cairo, 16 September 1997)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/161/10(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 160th session (April 1997) concerning the case of Sri Bintang Pamungkas, of Indonesia,

Taking account of the communications from the sources dated 29 June, 30 August and 4 September 1997,

Recalling that, on 8 May 1996, Jakarta Central Court found Sri Bintang Pamungkas guilty of deliberately insulting President Suharto by suggesting that he was a " dictator " at a seminar he gave at a Berlin University on 9 April 1995 and sentenced him to 2 years and 10 months' imprisonment; that an earlier charge of instigating or participating in demonstrations against President Suharto during his April 1995 visit to Germany had to be dropped for lack of evidence,

Considering that the judgment became binding on 11 April 1997 when it was upheld by the Supreme Court,

Recalling that, according to the sources, despite the non-admissibility in Indonesian law of tape-recordings as evidence, the main exhibit is a transcript of a 180-minute tape-recording of the seminar lasting almost seven hours together with the testimony of three students, one having a part-time job at the Indonesian Embassy and the other two being close relations of his,

Considering in this connection that the key witness, Sri Basuki, has reportedly never been duly identified by the Court, which accepted her written testimony, and that this may warrant a review of the trial,

Recalling that Sri Bintang's party, the United Development Party (PPP), " recalled " him from his parliamentary seat and that, on 29 May 1996, Sri Bintang launched a new party, the Indonesian Democratic Union Party (PUDI), which is not recognised by the Government,

Recalling also that, on 5 March 1997, Sri Bintang was arrested together with two other PUDI officials and accused under the Anti-Subversion Act of having, on Eid-al-Fitr greetings cards, set out the PUDI political agenda, namely: (a)  ignore the 1997 parliamentary elections, (b)  refuse Mr. Suharto as a presidential candidate in 1998, and (c)  prepare the post-Suharto period; that he has been interrogated several times but refused to answer arguing that the interrogators were not respecting the provisions laid down in the Indonesian Code of Criminal Procedure (KUHAP), that is to say they were not informing him of the accusation brought against him and the facts adduced to substantiate it, its legal basis, who the witnesses were, what the material evidence was and who the victims were,

Recalling that offences under the Anti-Subversion Act carry up to 20 years' imprisonment or the death penalty,

Considering that, while the other two members of his party were released, the detention order against him was extended until the sentence handed down on him in the first case became binding; that he was then transferred from the Attorney General's Detainment House to Cipinang Prison, where he is currently serving his sentence; that his conditions of detention are good,

Considering that on 12 May 1997 Sri Bintang was notified of the decision of the Minister of Education and Culture of 1 April 1997 to expel him with dishonour from his position as a permanent faculty member of the State University of Indonesia, where he had been teaching for over 25 years; that an appeal against the decision has been filed with Jakarta Administrative Court, which is expected to hear the case in October 1997,

Considering that at the hearing in Cairo the Indonesian delegation reiterated its statement of April 1997, namely that Sri Bintang was prosecuted for attempting to mobilise the people by illegal means - a non-authorised political party - for change of the Constitution; that the Constitution can only be changed through discussion in Parliament and a subsequent referendum,

Recalling that the Inter-Parliamentary Council, in the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections adopted unanimously in Paris on 26 March 1994 with a delegation from the Indonesian Parliament in attendance, proclaimed that " everyone has the right to join, or together with others to establish, a political party or organisation for the purpose of competing in an election ",

1. Thanks the Indonesian delegation for the information and observations it supplied;

2. Reiterates its previous concerns regarding Sri Bintang's prosecution for insulting the President of the Republic, in particular its fear that he might well have been prosecuted and sentenced on account of considerations other than those of a judicial nature;

3. Notes with interest that a review of the trial may be possible as a key witness has reportedly not been duly identified by the Court, and would appreciate the authorities' views in this respect;

4. Remains deeply concerned at Sri Bintang's arrest and prosecution on subversion charges for having put out a call, on greetings cards of his party, to boycott the 1997 elections, oppose a new candidature of President Suharto and prepare the post-Suharto period, and can but consider this to be a simple expression of a political stance lying well within his freedom of expression;

5. Expresses concern that discussing constitutional change in any country could possibly give rise to prosecution;

6. Earnestly hopes therefore that the authorities may consider measures leading to Sri Bintang's early release from imprisonment and that the charges under the Sedition Act may be dropped;

7. Regrets that Sri Bintang was expelled " with dishonour " from the chair he had held at Indonesia University for more than 25 years, and notes that he has challenged that decision as unlawful;

8. Recalls once more the constant position of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that, once elected, all members of Parliament hold their mandates by popular will, and therefore reiterates its regret that Indonesian law empowers political parties to have representatives of the people " recalled ";

9. Regrets that the authorities have not authorised the political party founded by Sri Bintang Pamungkas in May 1996, and earnestly hopes that they will, in the light of the principles proclaimed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, reconsider the regulations on political parties;

10. Requests the Secretary General to convey these considerations to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the National Commission on Human Rights, seeking their comments thereon and inviting them to keep the Committee informed of Sri Bintang's situation;

11. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (April 1998).

* * *

* The Indonesian delegation expressed reservations with regard to the resolution adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Council.

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