On 8 January 2024, judges at the Jakarta Timur District Court ruled that the Indonesian human rights defenders Fatia Maulidyanti and Haris Azhar were acquitted of defamation charges in the trial against the incumbent minister for investment and maritime affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Previously, the public prosecutor had demanded three years and six months in prison plus a fine of Rp 500,000 instead of three months imprisonment for Fatia Maulidyanti and an imprisonment sentence of four years for Haris Azhar. Civil society actors across Indonesia celebrated the verdict as a victory for freedom of expression in Indonesia. The prosecutor filed a cassation against the ruling.
The Director of Amnesty International, Usman Hamid, stated that the verdict encourages all activists across Indonesia to raise concerns about conflict of interest among government officials without backing down in case of criminalisation. He expressed full appreciation to the panel of judges, journalists, and human rights activists across Indonesia for their support in publicly raising the lawsuit nationally and internationally (see video below).
The verdict was also positively received by civil society in West Papua. The international spokesperson of the KNPB and Papuan human rights activist, Victor Yeimo, stated in response to the verdict that it is a victory for the truth and a win for the Papuan people. People in the Dogiyia Regency spontaneously gathered and celebrated the verdict with a traditional dance, commonly referred to as ‘Waita’ (see video below).
The case, reported to the Regional Police in September 2021, was handed over to the Attorney General’s Office on 6 March 2023. Luhut Pandjaitan had filed a lawsuit against the two human rights defenders after raising concerns over a conflict of interests regarding military operations and the plan to exploit gold resources in the Intan Jaya Regency, Papua Tengah Province, on Haris’ YouTube channel. Luhut Pandjaitan is a significant shareholder in the Toba Group, whose subsidiaries requested licenses for mining operations in the conflict area.