UN Lauds Indonesia on Human Rights, Says More to Be Done

JAKARTA ~ A special UN envoy praised Indonesia on Thursday for making great strides towards improving the human rights situation in the country, but said more needed to be done to protect activists.

“There has been significant changes … (but) these changes must be reflected in actions on the ground,” Hina Jilani, the special representative of the UN secretary general on human rights defenders, told a public hearing.

“What happens in Indonesia not only affects regional security but also the movement in this region towards democratization of governments (and) countries and the strengthening of civil society.”

Jilani, a Pakistani attorney who founded that country’s first all-female law firm in 1980, is in Indonesia on a 10-day working visit to assess the situation of human rights defenders.

She will submit recommendations to the Jakarta government when her stay ends on June 15.

“Governments are urged to act in a manner that supports the legitimacy and the value of human rights defenders,” she said, before listening to the stories of more than 20 activists from across Indonesia.

One of those scheduled to meet Jilani is the widow of slain activist Munir Said Thalib, who was poisoned on his way to Amsterdam in 2004.

Police and the government have also come under pressure from Munir’s widow and rights groups amid claims of a cover-up in the original investigation because of links to the nation’s national intelligence agency, BIN.

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