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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    11 July 2012

US Ambassador to Indonesia raises deep concern over human rights violation


The United States Ambassador to Indonesia Scot A. Marciel said lax law enforcement was responsible for cases of violence against minority groups in the country.

Commenting on fatal shootings in Papua and continuing abuses against minority groups, which included church closures and attacks on Ahmadiyah religious sect followers, Marciel said that rule of law was key to address human rights abuse and cases of religious intolerance and strict implementation could prevent reoccurrence of these violations in the future.

"Overall, Indonesia, as well as the US, are very tolerant countries where the people respect others' views. But I hear from Indonesian friends growing concerns about intolerant groups," Marciel said during a discussion with journalists over the weekend.

Marciel said that he was aware of the alleged involvement of security officials in the fatal shootings in Papua.

According to him, the Indonesian government must be able to apply rule of law to address both intolerant acts and alleged violence committed by members of the security forces.

"In the case of human rights violation that appear to have been carried out by government forces or security forces, we consistently talk of the importance of full and credible investigations with appropriate discipline or punishment if necessary," Marciel said.

"It is almost impossible to avoid some incidents [in cases like those in Papua] but it is really important and essential to democracy to have accountability for those violations," he added.

Meanwhile, Donald Steinberg, the deputy administrator of the US Agency for International Development (Usaid) said his organisation supported many programmes to address the issue.

"Our goal is not to substitute the US as a judge or jury of human rights practices but to enhance capacity of government institutions and civil society elements in promoting human rights principles," he said.

The Usaid has spent US$157.35 million between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012 to finance numerous projects throughout the country. Good governance and democracy were among the agency's top issue areas of focus.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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