Gov´t Disbands Civic Organization, Freedom of Association Under Threat?

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 , 18:00:00 WIB - Law

Coordinating Politics, Law, and Security Minister Wiranto (third left) and the Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly (second left), Internal Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo (fourth left), National Police Chief Tito Karnavian (fifth left), and Junior Attorney General for Intelligence (Jamintel) Adi Toegarisman (left) are seen giving a statement to the press at the office of the Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Law, and Security in Jakarta, Monday (8/5). (ANTARA)

JAKARTA, GRES.NEWS – The Coordinating Politics, Law, and Security Minister Wiranto has disbanded Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), and his action is considered surprising. Executive Director of Community Study and Advocation Agency (ELSAM), Wahyu Wagiman, considers that the government must make a firm decision against intolerant organizations, and they should be careful in making the decision to maintain the law and democracy.

ELSAM considers that the government could threaten the right to a freedom of association if they’re too hasty in disbanding civic organizations. The right to freedom of association is protected by Article 28 and 28E Paragraph (3) of the 1945 Constitution and Article 24 Law No.39/1999 on Human Rights. Civic organization disbandment could violate Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that’s been ratified by Indonesia with Law No.12/2005 on Civil and Political Rights.

"Although the freedom of association can be limited, some experts consider that disbandment is an excessive action so it should be only taken as a last resort," Wahyu said in a written statement received by, Tuesday (9/5).

He explained that Article 22 Paragraph (2) ICCPR mentions that freedom of association is one of the derogable rights. However, the restrictions must be prescribed by law, and a democratic community is needed for the national security, public safety, public order, protection of health, public moral, or protection of people’s rights and freedom.

"Besides that, the act of disbandment must refer to the principles of due process of law as a pillar of a constitutional state, where the court hold a vital role in the process," he said.

Therefore, Wahyu said that disbanding an organization should be brought to a court, and the trial should be transparent and accountable. Both parties (the government and the disbanded organization) should be questioned equally, and the ruling can be brought to the higher court.

Meanwhile, an expert on administrative law, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, said that Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) can’t be disbanded directly. "The government can’t just disband a national-wide legal civic organization, except they have made a persuasive effort by issuing a warning letter for three times," Yusril stated, Monday (8/5).

If the government’s persuasive effort were ignored, Yusril said that the government could file a petition to disband the civic organization to the court. In the trial, the civic organization has the rights to defend themselves by presenting evidence, witnesses, and experts to the court. They can also file a cassation an appeal against the state court ruling to the Supreme Court. (dtc)