Resolution adopted without a vote* by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 162nd session (Windhoek, 11 April 1998)

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/162/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 161st session (September 1997) concerning the case of Sri Bintang Pamungkas, of Indonesia,

Taking account of the information and observations supplied by the Indonesian delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (April 1998),

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; and that the judgment became binding on 11 April 1997,

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 being a part-time employee at the Indonesian Embassy and the other two close relatives of his,

Recalling 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),

Recalling 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 election; (b)  refuse Mr. Suharto as a presidential candidate in 1998, and (c)  prepare the post-Suharto period,

Considering that, according to one of the sources, on 5 December 1997, Sri Bintang was indicted under Article 1, paragraph 1(a) and (b), of the Anti-Subversion Act for violating or deviating from " Pancasila ", the State ideology, and attempting to overthrow the Government; that, according to the indictment, the evidence to substantiate the charges includes: (a)  meetings to establish PUDI; (b)  the Party programme and its distribution; (c)  proposal for a candidate for the 1998 presidential elections; (d)  the distribution of the aforementioned greetings cards; (e)  the framing of a new Constitution for Indonesia,

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

Considering that, according to the sources, the case was referred to South Jakarta District Court, where a first hearing was set for 22 December 1997, and that several hearings have since taken place; that Sri Bintang reportedly petitioned the judge to declare the prosecutor unfit to take part in the proceedings, arguing that he had used physical violence against him during pre-trial interrogations; that, when the judge dismissed the petition, Sri Bintang walked out of the court with his lawyers,

Recalling 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 that decision was filed with Jakarta Administrative Court, which, on 25 February 1998, dismissed Sri Bintang's suit as he had been sentenced to 34 months' imprisonment for intentionally insulting the Head of State,

Considering the position of the authorities as affirmed on various occasions by the Indonesian delegation to Inter-Parliamentary Conferences, namely that Sri Bintang was prosecuted for attempting to mobilise the people by illegal means - a non-authorised political party - with a view to changing the Constitution; that the Constitution can only be changed through discussion in Parliament and a subsequent referendum; that this case in no way involves a violation of human rights,

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 had the right to join or, together with others, to establish a political party or organisation for the purpose of competing in an election,

Recalling further the principles set out in the " Universal Declaration on Democracy " adopted unanimously by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at the 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conference with a delegation from the Indonesian Parliament in attendance, in particular principles 5, 12 and 21,

Noting finally that, in a statement on 12 January 1998 to draw the Government's attention to address human rights and political reform within any economic reform that may be imposed, the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) recommended that the Indonesian Government take the following measures: (a) put an end to misuse of the law as an instrument of repression (b) permit greater freedom of expression (c) heed calls for greater political openness,

  1. Thanks the Indonesian delegation for the information provided and for its co-operation;
  2. Remains deeply concerned at the new prosecution of Sri Bintang under the Anti-Subversion Act, and fears, in view of the evidence adduced to substantiate the charges, that he is being prosecuted for acts which are part of the proper functioning of a parliamentary democracy;
  3. Recalls the principles upheld by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in its Universal Declaration on Democracy and in the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections, which reiterates 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;
  4. Believes that is it a matter of concern to the Indonesian Parliament, which has endorsed both Declarations, to apply the principles proclaimed therein, and calls therefore on the Indonesian Parliament to consider measures for the charges brought against Sri Bintang under the Anti-Subversion Act to be dropped;
  5. Reiterates its previous concerns regarding Sri Bintang's prosecution for insulting the President of the Republic, in particular its fear that he may well have been prosecuted and sentenced on account of considerations other than those of a judicial nature, and would appreciate receiving the authorities' views on the prospects for a review of the trial;
  6. Regrets that Sri Bintang was expelled " with dishonour " from the chair he had held at Indonesia University for over 25 years;
  7. Expresses yet again its regret that the authorities have not authorised the political party founded by Sri Bintang Pamungkas in May 1996, and earnestly hopes that they will reconsider the regulations on political parties in the light of the principles proclaimed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union;
  8. Deems it necessary, in view of the fundamental issues regarding freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly raised by this case, to gather further information directly from the authorities, the parliamentarian concerned and his lawyers, and entrusts the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians with conducting an on-site mission to this end;
  9. Notes with satisfaction that the Indonesian delegation expressed its intention to relay the Committee's concerns and opinion in this matter to the competent Indonesian authorities,
  10. Requests the Secretary General to convey these considerations to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, inviting him to ensure that the Committee's mission can be received in Jakarta in the very near future;
  11. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (September 1998).

* The Indonesian delegation expressed reservations about the resolution adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Council, nevertheless stating that it would commend the Council's decision regarding the on-site mission to the competent authorities.

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