'Extreme risk' of human rights violations in Indonesia

JAKARTA - A London-based political-risk consultancy has cited Indonesia in its newly released Human Rights Atlas 2013 as a country with an "extreme" risk of human rights violations.

The organisation, Mapplecroft, said that Indonesia was listed in that category because of the increasing number of instances where security force members resorted to violence when dealing with protesters and political dissent, and did so with impunity.

Mapplecroft said that the rising wealth gap from mining and agricultural projects had led to tensions in some regions that could lead to violence.

It also highlighted the rise of social media, which made it easy for social protests to escalate.

The company started compiling its human rights report in 2006.

It ranks 197 countries based on 24 different types of human rights violations.

Currently there are 32 countries that have been included in the extreme risk category.

Others are classified into low, medium and high risk.

The top 10 countries rated as extreme risk are Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.

Indonesia ranked 32nd in this year's report and India, in 24th position, entered the extreme risk category for the first time this year.

Mapplecroft is the chief implementing partner in the Human Rights Dilemmas Forum, a joint project with the United Nations' Global Compact exploring the dilemmas faced by multinational companies working in emerging markets.

Its chief executive officer, Professor Alyson Warhurst, sits on the human rights working group of the UN Global Compact and is an active participant on the Board of Transparency International (UK).

Responding to the survey, Poengky Indarti of the human rights monitoring group Imparsial questioned the "extreme risk" category because she believed that the risk from human rights violations now was not as severe as it had been during the New Order period.

"If you say that the condition of legal certainty in Indonesia is poor then I would say that is true, but regarding the situation of human-rights violations I believe we are still better than other Southeast Asian countries," she told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

She said it was true that the security forces had frequently been unable to handle protesters and political dissent, but she said that more protests and political dissent could also be a good indicator of the country's democracy.

"Most of the protests in the country are now initiated by workers, that is a good sign because it means that workers have now learned to fight for their rights," she said.

Poengky added that the growing social media-based movements could also be a good sign of the country's fledgling democracy.

Separately the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) revealed that the National Police as well as mining and plantation companies topped the list of actors that should be held responsible for human rights abuses.

The commission said in its 2012 annual report, that there were 1,635 human rights violations committed by members of the police.

There were also another 1,009 human rights violations initiated by mining and plantation companies.

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