Re: Protective Measures for Olga Hamadi
To: Inspektur Jenderal Mr. Sam L. Tobing
From: Adrie van de Streek, Executive Director, Lawyers for Lawyers; Gail Davidson, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
Date: October 10, 2012
The Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (‘Stichting Advocaten voor Advocaten’) is committed to helping lawyers around the world who are prevented from exercising their profession without any improper interference. Lawyers for Lawyers would like to express its grave concern about the prosecution of our colleague Olga Hamadi.
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally through advocacy, legal research and education. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Ms. Olga Hamadi is working as a lawyer in the province of Papua, Indonesia. She is well respected for her work for, inter alia, the internationally renowned non-governmental organization KontraS, based in Jayapura. Ms. Hamadi has been investigating the case of, and representing five men in Wamena, Papua, who were allegedly tortured or ill-treated in detention by policemen of the Jayawijaya District Police Station, in order to force them to confess their involvement in a murder. In this framework, Ms. Hamadi submitted an application for a pre-trial hearing to raise concerns about the alleged violations by the police.
We have been informed that Ms. Hamadi has been hindered in her work as a lawyer through the following physical and psychological harassment. On 14 September 2012 Ms. Hamadi received a call from one of the police investigators of the Jayawijaya District Police Station who interrogated the five men represented by Ms Hamadi. The police investigator made a threatening statement that implied that he could not guarantee her safety and could not accept responsibility for violent actions initiated against her by members of the local community during the pre-trial investigation in Wamena. Later, Ms. Hamadi was informed by local sources that prior to the pre-trial hearing, the police allegedly sent text messages to the murder victim’s family and members of the local community. These text messages stated that the police department managed to catch the perpetrators of a murder and that Ms. Hamadi was interfering with the case and wanted to stop the legal process. These text messages seem designed to provoke people to wrongfully interfere with Ms. Hamadi’s responsible and lawful professional activities during the pre-trial investigation.
Ms. Hamadi has several times not been able to attend the pre-trial hearings in the Wamena District Court, because a crowd of people (including family members of the murdered victim) violently blocked her from entering the court and the leader of the group even threatened to kill her in case she would not withdraw the pre-trial application. The police officers did not provide her with the protection that was clearly necessary to enable her to attend the pre-trial hearings without risking injury to herself.
On 20 September 2012, due to ongoing concerns about the safety of the defendants and their families, as well as the safety of Ms. Hamadi and the lack of protection from the authorities, Ms. Hamadi withdrew the pre-trial application and returned to Jayapura. She still fears for her safety if and when she travels to Wamena in the future.
In this context, we urge the Indonesian government to acknowledge the valuable role played by human rights lawyers and to promote and support their work in accordance with the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in 1990, which provide for a number of rights and responsibilities for lawyers acting in their professional capacity.
Paragraphs 16 and 17 of the Basic Principles, state that the Government is under an obligation
to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference’. Further: ‘Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.
According to paragraph 23,
Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings […].
Furthermore, the severe harassment of Ms. Hamadi to prevent her from fulfilling her duties as a lawyer and the failure by the authorities to protect her against such practices, are contrary to other international treaties and international principles adopted by the United Nations, including Articles 1, 2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders instruments and Articles 2, 9 and 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Indonesia is party and therefore bound, which states:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
These principles are universally applicable. Therefore, your government is under an obligation to adequately protect and support its lawyers.
In view of the above, we urge your government, in compliance with the international human rights obligations of the Republic of Indonesia, to:
- Immediately take the measures necessary to ensure and guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms Hamadi;
- Announce the commencement of an investigation to identify and bring to justice all suspected perpetrators involved in the harassment of Ms Hamadi;
- Send an unequivocal communication to the police bodies referred to in the letter advising clearly of their duty to protect Ms Hamadi from harm and of the government’s intention to take punitive action against officers involved in the harassment or endangerment of Ms Hamadi;
- Generally, put an end to all forms of harassment against lawyers in Indonesia, and ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments applicable to the Republic of Indonesia.
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. We will continue to monitor this case closely.