Head of the School of Law Authors TrialWatch Fairness Report

Dec 18 2020 Posted: 10:09 GMT

TrialWatch Fairness Report Shows Flaws in Indonesia’s Blasphemy Law Courts’ Treatment of Individuals with Disabilities

Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, is a member of Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch ‘experts panel’. He has authored a report for the TrialWatch initiative, which was published today.  The press release and full report are available here.

The TrialWatch Fairness Report written by Dr O’Mahony found that Indonesia’s prosecution of Suzethe Margaret earlier this year for blasphemy violated the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Ms Margaret is a woman who experiences psychosocial disability who was prosecuted for blasphemy as a result of entering a Mosque, carrying a dog, wearing shoes and having an altercation with the Mosque’s caretaker while she was unwell. 

The report concludes that Indonesia’s blasphemy law permits convictions “on the basis of ‘subjective feelings of offensiveness’” and is inconsistent with the rights to freedom of expression and religion, as well as with non-discrimination norms.  TrialWatch experts assign a grade of A, B, C, D, or F to the trial reflecting their view of whether and the extent to which the trial complied with relevant international human rights law.  Dr. O’Mahony gave the proceedings a grade of “C.”  This trial took place against the backdrop of efforts to expand Indonesia’s blasphemy law and this is not the first time the law has been used to prosecute persons who experience psychosocial disability in Indonesia.

In his assessment of the trial, Dr. O’Mahony said: “While I welcome the fact that Ms. Margaret was not convicted, the court’s failure to adequately assess the supports Ms. Margaret needed and the absence of reasonable accommodations made her a spectator at her own trial. Indonesia needs to do more to ensure those involved with the criminal justice system are trained to provide equal access to justice for persons with disabilities.”

The Clooney Foundation for Justice now call on the Indonesian government to repeal its blasphemy law; it further calls on Indonesia to take the steps necessary to ensure respect for the rights of persons with disabilities in line with its obligations under the UN Convention in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice's TrialWatch initiative monitors and grades the fairness of trials of vulnerable people around the world, including journalists, women and girls, religious minorities, LGBTQ persons, and human rights defenders. Using this data, TrialWatch advocates for victims and is developing a Global Justice Ranking measuring national courts’ compliance with international human rights standards.


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