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

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Having before it the case of Mr. Sihaloho, a member of the Indonesian Parliament, which has been the subject of a study and report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in accordance with the " Procedure for the examination and treatment by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of communications concerning violations of human rights of parliamentarians ",

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/161/10(a)-R.1), which contains a detailed outline of the case,

Taking account of the information provided by the Indonesian delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (September 1997),

Considering that Mr. Sihaloho, a member of Parliament for the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), and strong supporter of ousted leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, was summoned as a suspect on 27 September 1996 on account of charges under Articles 134, 154 and 207 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (insulting the President, public expression of feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt towards the government and publicly insulting an authority or public body, respectively),

Considering that, according to the source, he was found guilty on 21 July 1997 of " insulting the President of the Republic and other government organisations such as the armed forces and the parliament ", by reportedly stating on 13 July 1996, on the occasion of the free speech forum (Mimbar Bebas) which was held daily at the Jakarta headquarters of the PDI after Mrs. Megawati's ousting from the PDI leadership, that " our freedom has been stolen and we are being colonised again under Suharto's 30 year leadership" and " Imagine, all that is being bought with people's money is used to shoot people " and " Parliament is not representing the people but the conglomerates. The MPR (People's Consultative Assembly) has not materialised for the people, it is a materialisation of the rulers so that the MPR's decisions are not decisions of the people ",

Considering that, according to the source, Mr. Sihaloho claims that he was partially misquoted and that his comments were taken out of context; considering also that a substantial part of the evidence used as the basis of the prosecution was a reportedly video-taped recording of Mr. Sihaloho's speech at the Mimbar Bebas which, his lawyers claim, could easily have been re-edited,

Considering that Mr. Sihaloho has lodged an appeal and remains at liberty,

1. Thanks the Indonesian delegation for the information it provided;

2. Can but deplore the sentencing of Mr. Sihaloho and considers that the alleged offending statement merely constitutes an exercise of the right to freedom of speech, which would be quite meaningless if it did not include the right to give a value judgment on a government's policies;

3. Stresses that the right to freedom of speech is central to the functioning of parliamentary democracy and that Parliaments should consequently have a particular interest in ensuring that this right is made as extensive as possible and can be exercised without risk, in particular, of imprisonment;

4. Notes that an appeal against the judgment is pending and earnestly hopes that Mr. Sihaloho will not ultimately be punished for having exercised his right to freedom of speech;

5. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the National Commission on Human Rights, seeking their observations;

6. 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.

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 98th Conference and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 1160K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader

Human rights of parliamentarians | Home page | Main areas of activity | Structure and functioning