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Today, President Obama will host Indonesian President Joko Widodo for a meeting at the White House. In response, T. Kumar, International Advocacy Director for Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:

“Commerce and security issues are expected to be the focus of today’s meeting, but there is a crucial need for human rights to be on the agenda as well. President Widodo promised to improve his nation’s dire human rights record when he campaigned for office, and now President Obama must hold him to his word.

“President Widodo has served just over a year in office. While he has taken limited steps to move away from the repressive policies of past administrations, including the freeing of certain political prisoners and the lifting of some restrictions on the foreign press in Papua, the nation is still rife with human rights violations.

“For example, a bylaw took effect in Aceh province on Friday that imposes flogging sentences for consensual sex outside marriage and same-sex relations. It also erects unacceptable hurdles to reporting rape. Laws criminalizing blasphemy continued to be used.

“More broadly, prisoners of conscience continue to languish in prison for having exercised their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including dozens from Papua and Maluku for up to 20 years. Executions have also continued for prisoners convicted of drug trafficking, an offense that does not meet the threshold for capital punishment under international law. And little has been done to address the longstanding culture of impunity for current and past human rights violations by security forces.

“President Obama has an important obligation and opportunity to address human rights with President Widodo and hold him to his campaign promises. In particular, Obama should call on Widodo to release all prisoners of conscience, ensure unfettered access for international human rights observers to Papua and implement effective mechanisms to address current and past human rights violations.”