Jakarta. Roichatul Aswidah, former member of the National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, said last week that efforts to boost the economy and strengthen national security must be based on principles of human rights.
"There are some basic principles that we cannot abandon, which we must always supervise, and that is the importance of making sure that there are no trade-offs, which is when rights are sacrificed to achieve something else," Roichatul said during a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday (25/01).
Roichatul is a senior researcher at the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam).
She added that tendencies for trade-offs are high in the pursuit of economic growth and in the name of security. In both cases, civil rights are often neglected.
Under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Indonesia has embarked on an ambitious plan to improve infrastructure across the archipelago.
However, a recent report published by Elsam revealed that efforts to develop the country’s infrastructure have been problematic, and included issues concerning human rights and corruption.
Roichatul also said that tendencies to use the state apparatus for political purposes, especially to gain popularity, are becoming commonplace in Indonesia and around the world.
"Is the death penalty used for the sake of popularity? … [When these things happen] violations of human rights become commonplace, and that’s not even a trade off but solely for the sake of popularity, and that’s extremely dangerous," Roichatul said.
The death penalty has never been removed from Indonesia's legal code, and will likely remain in the revised criminal code currently being discussed at the House of Representatives.
Furthermore, Roichatul emphasized that the instrument of law, according to the 1945 Constitution, should be used by the government to implement human rights in the country.
"However, if we’re not careful, it can then become an instrument for violations [instead of instruments for protection]," she said.
As the Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) pointed out, the current draft reflects issues that must be addressed, including excessive punishments and an unclear distribution and framing of punishments, which many believe will result in overcriminalization.
"In developing revisions to the criminal code, the formula must always be based on criminalization as a last resort. It cannot be chosen before exploring other options," Roichatul said.