Amnesty wants human rights issues included in presidential debates

Kompas – December 6, 2023
Usman Hamid (left) and KPU Commissioner August Mellaz during audience at KPU office – December 6, 2023 (Komaps)

Novianti Setuningsih, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia has asked the General Elections Commission (KPU) to include the issue of human rights in the upcoming presidential and vice presidential (capres-cawapres) debates for the 2024 presidential election.

"We have conveyed three human rights agenda items that we are proposing be included in the capres and cawapres debate agenda", said Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid after holding an audience with the KPU on Wednesday December 6.

Hamid said that the first human rights agenda item that they have proposed to be included in the debate is freedom of expression, which he says is in a precarious state.

Hamid revealed that there are many cases of freedom of expression being violated in Indonesia, including the alleged intimidation against artist Butet Kartaredjasa that occurred recently.

"In the agenda on freedom of expression we also conveyed the need to take up various laws that are problematic in the context of protecting freedom of expression", said Hamid.

The laws referred to include the Criminal Code (KUHP), the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law and other regulations that discriminate against minority groups.

The second agenda item that was proposed is related to the accountability of the security forces given the many incidents of violence by the authorities in different parts of the country.

"The security forces should not be allowed to use excessive force, not allowed to use unnecessary violence", said Hamid.

In addition to this, Amnesty is proposing that the presidential election debate discuss the candidates' commitment to resolving past gross human rights violations.

"We suggested that the KPK ensure that the capres and cawapres debate agenda really discusses or raises questions about the prospective presidential and vice presidential candidates' vision and mission related to resolving gross human rights violations", said Hamid.

"Including also the prevention of cases of gross human rights violations in the future", he continued.

Hamid claims that the proposals were accepted and will be considered by the KPU, and that they will be discussed by the KPU and the debate panelist team and decided on shortly.

"They will ensure that the agenda that we have conveyed be officially discussed with the panelist team and included in the candidate pair debates", said Hamid.

The KPU will hold five debates in the lead up to the 2024 presidential elections, namely on December 12 and 22, January 7 and 21, 2024, and on February 4, 2024.

The themes for each debate are as follows:

First debate, December 12: Law, human rights, governance, corruption eradication and strengthening democracy.

Second debate, December 22: Defence, security, geopolitics and international relations.

Third debate, January 7, 2024: The economy (people's and digital), social welfare, investment, trade, taxation (digital), finance, managing national and regional budgets and infrastructure.

Fourth debate, January 21: Energy, natural resources, national mineral resources, food, carbon tax, the environment, agrarian issues and traditional communities.

Fifth debate, February 4: Information technology, improving public services, fake news, intolerance, education, healthcare (in a post-Covid society) and labour.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty International Minta Penyelesaian Pelanggaran HAM Berat Masuk Agenda Debat Capres-Cawapres".]