[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday urged Indonesia [statement] to end violence and discrimination against Christians and Muslim minorities, such as Shiites. During her visit to Indonesia, Pillay met with several government officials and the judges on the country’s Constitutional Court. Although Pillay commended Indonesia for ratifying several international human rights treaties and for progressing in its democratic transition, she stressed the need to end discrimination in the country. Pillay voiced concerns over the violence in Papua and the country’s crackdown on freedom of expression. In particular, Pillay emphasized the need for Indonesia to integrate its international human rights commitments into domestic law. Pillay stated:
A fundamental principle of international human rights law is non-discrimination. This applies in all areas to all people. In terms of religion, the Constitution of Indonesia upholds this principle, stating that every person shall be free to choose and to practice the religion of his or her choice. Indonesia has a rich culture and history of diversity and tolerance. At the same time, it risks losing this if firm action is not taken to address increasing levels of violence and hatred towards religious minorities and narrow and extremist-interpretations of Islam.
Pillay encouraged the government to set up ad hoc human rights courts and urged the government to respect the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.
In July an Indonesian court sentenced [JURIST report] a Shia cleric to two years in prison on blasphemy charges. Chief Judge Purnomo Amin Tjahjo of the Sampang district court announced the sentence of Tajul Muluk, whose teachings were deemed to have deviated from mainstream Islam resulting in “public anxiety” over Muluk’s pronouncements. In March the Jayapura district court in Papua, Indonesia convicted [JURIST report] five men of treason for declaring the province’s independence and raising an outlawed separatist flag at a peaceful pro-independence rally in October 2011.