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Indonesia: Illegal detention of Shi'a cleric is violation of rights


Sidoarjo, (The Jakarta Post):

Sampang Shia community leader Tajul Muluk has remained in detention at the Sidoarjo penitentiary for the past week without a clear legal basis, despite the end of his detention period having been reached, his lawyer Asfinawati said on Wednesday.

According to Asfinawati, Tajul who was detained by the East Java High Court for blasphemy, was not allowed to leave the prison on Oct. 9 when his detention period was over.

Tajul was acquitted of all charges when his lawyers filed for appeal at the Supreme Court on Oct. 2, 2012, pending the hearing of the appeal. However, Tajul was still in detention pending trial. This maximum detention period ended on Oct. 9 and he should have been released, since the Supreme Court has made no order for his continued detention. However there were no orders specifying his release at Sidoarjo prison.

“Authorities at Sidoarjo prison say that it is normal to detain prisoners after the legal basis for detention has expired. They remain firm that they will not release Tajul on the grounds that they are awaiting orders from the Supreme Court. Isn’t detaining a person without legal basis against his basic human rights?” Asfinawati said.

Tajul was sentenced to two years by the Sampang District Court July 12, 2012. When his lawyers filed an appeal at the East Java High Court, the district court’s ruling was no longer legally binding and Tajul’s case was delegated to the high court.

The East Java High Court handed down a stiffer sentence of four years against Tajul on Sept. 21, 2012, and his lawyer filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, so the high court’s ruling is also not legally binding.

“So, now the right of detention is in the hands of the Supreme Court which has not issued any extension of detention. Tajul’s detention period ended on Oct. 9, therefore Sidoarjo prison is detaining a person with no legal basis,” said Asfinawati.

Asfinawati said she had handed over Justice and Basic Human Rights Ministerial Decree No. 01/2011 on acquittal which requires the warden to release an inmate when a prisoner’s term or extension period of detention is over. If the warden refuses to release the prisoner, he can face administrative sanctions. “But they don’t care and remain firm in detaining Tajul,” said Asfinawati.

On Oct. 14, Tajul’s legal team petitioned to release Tajul from prison but to no avail. Prison authorities denied their efforts on the grounds that they were waiting for the outcome of the appeal.

The matter has been reported to the Law and Human Rights deputy minister, the National Commission on Human Rights and the East Java Justice and Human Rights Office.

Meanwhile, victims of the violence in Sampang, East Java, are still enduring life in an indoor tennis stadium in Sampang with very limited facilities.

As many as 220 victims of the riot are still at the shelter and have been there since the attacks took place on Aug. 26. The number has reduced because some decided to continue their studies or seek work outside Sampang.

East Java Kontras worker Andy Irfan said every one of the refugees wished to return to their home villages.

“We are still negotiating with clerics and the local administration, to accommodate their wish,” said Irfan.

According to plan, humanitarian organizations, spearheaded by the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), Komnas HAM, Komnas Perempuan, the National Police and the Witness and Victim Protection Agency will rebuild victim homes destroyed in the riot, restore infrastructure and open dialog between the disputing parties.

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