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 Mr. Aberson Sihaloho, a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia,

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

Recalling that Mr. Sihaloho, a member of Parliament for the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), 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 that " our freedom has been stolen and we are being colonised again under Suharto's 30­year 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 "; that he was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment,

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

Further recalling that Mr. Sihaloho has lodged an appeal which is still pending and remains free,

Noting finally that in a statement released on 12 January 1998 to draw the Government's attention to the need to address human rights and political reform within any economic reform that might be imposed, 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 and observations it provided and for its co-operation;
  2. Remains deeply concerned at the sentencing of Mr. Sihaloho, and reaffirms its conviction that the offending statement, if actually made, merely constituted an exercise of the right to freedom of speech, which would be quite meaningless if it did not include the right, in particular of members of Parliament, to give a value judgment on a government's policies;
  3. Wishes to receive a copy of the judgment handed down on Mr. Sihaloho;
  4. Stresses once again the fundamental importance of the right to freedom of speech for the proper functioning of parliamentary democracy, and reaffirms its belief 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, particularly of imprisonment;
  5. Earnestly hopes that Mr. Sihaloho will not be punished on account of having exercised his freedom of speech;
  6. Entrusts the Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians - in view of the fundamental issues regarding freedom of speech involved in this case - with conducting an on-site mission to Indonesia in order to hold consultations with the authorities and the sources regarding this case;
  7. 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,
  8. 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;
  9. 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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