Syamsul Bahri and Samsir, father and son from a farmer community in North Sumatra province, are convicted of assault following weeks of trial over a spurious charge that is believed to be fabricated and linked to their work as environmental activists. While they have been sentenced to two months in jail, they will not be imprisoned unless they commit criminal offense within 4 months’ probation. However, they are now at risk of imprisonment since the Langkat Regency Prosecutor’s Office has appealed the court’s ruling.
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Muttaqin Harahap, S.H., M.H.
Head of Langkat Regency Prosecutor’s Office
Jl. Proklamasi No.51, Kwala Bingai, Stabat District,
Langkat Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia (20811)
Phone/Fax: (+62) 61-891-0166
Chargés d’Affaires Iwan Freddy Hari Susanto
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202 775 5200
Salutation: Dear Mr.
I am gravely concerned about the Langkat Regency Prosecutor’s Office’s decision to appeal the court verdict of Syamsul Bahri
, members of Nipah Farmer community in North Sumatra. According to information obtained by Amnesty International, no reliable evidence was presented during the trial that clearly demonstrates their involvement in any criminal activity. Convicted on what is feared to be spurious charges, it is believed that the men have been targeted for their work as environmental human rights defenders.
As individuals who peacefully conserve the environment and defend their access to land, Syamsul Bahri and Samsir should be protected as in accordance with Article 66 of Law No. 32/2009 on the Environmental Protection and Management, which stipulates that “every person who defends the right to a good and healthy environment shall not be prosecuted by criminal or civil offence.” Their criminalization does not only violate their rights, but also put the work and the rights of all human rights defenders at further risk in Indonesia.
I believe that Syamsul Bahri and Samsir should not have been convicted in the first place. Therefore, while the verdict exempted them from being sent to jail, I find the prosecutors’ appeal decision further troubling as I am afraid they might be wrongfully imprisoned. Furthermore, the spread of COVID-19 in prison would put their health at risk, specifically Syamsul Bahri who also suffers from diabetes and cholesterol that requires regular medication.
I, therefore, urge you to immediately ensure that the appeal is dropped. I also call upon authorities to ensure that all human rights defenders in the country can carry out their peaceful activities without fear of fear of harassment, intimidation, persecutions, arbitrary detention or imprisonment, in line with Article 66 of Law No. 32/2009.