Indonesia president: soldiers to face trial over torture video

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[JURIST] Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [official website; BBC profile] announced [press release, in Indonesian] Monday that Indonesian soldiers caught on video [CNN report; WARNING: readers may find the video disturbing] last month torturing Papuan detainees will stand trial before a military tribunal. Yudhoyono said that the decision to try the soldiers was the result of the government’s dedication to justice [ANTARA report] and not due to international pressure. He said the alleged perpetrators must face punishment appropriate for their actions and that the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) [official website, in Indonesian] must continue to respect the rule of law. The president said the government has completed its investigation, but he did not announce a trial date.

Last month, Indonesia’s government admitted the involvement of its soldiers [JURIST report] in the torture video. Indonesia has recently faced criticism over a variety of recent human rights issues. In June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [report materials; JURIST report] criticizing the Indonesian government for its treatment of Papuan [Economist backgrounder] and Moluccan [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] secessionists who, according to the report, face imprisonment, torture and denial of medical treatment for their beliefs. In April, the Constitutional Court voted 8-1 to uphold [JURIST report] a controversial anti-blasphemy law enacted in 1965 by the first Indonesian president. In 2008, HRW called for Indonesia to protect freedom of religion [JURIST report] and reverse a decree that provides for the prosecution of members of a controversial Islamic sect and to uphold its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text].

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