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Capacity Building and Protection Mechanisms for Women Human Rights Defenders

Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in Indonesia often face threats and violence. According to the annual records of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), in 2023 there were seven reported cases of violence against WHRDs.

The threats and violence they face are both physical and digital. Typically, when advocating cases related to environmental issues and land conflicts, they are threatened to stop their advocacy.

In response to these conditions, KEMITRAAN, through the ELEVATE project (Enhancing the Leverage of WEHRDs in Sustaining the Environment), seeks to strengthen protection for WHRDs. This is done by enhancing protection mechanisms from the state while initiating community-based protection. In this project, KEMITRAAN also supports WHRDs and civil society organizations in conducting gender-sensitive advocacy and environmental responsiveness.

In implementing these efforts, KEMITRAAN held a capacity-building workshop on protection mechanisms and security for WHRDs in environmental issues with gender sensitivity on January 30-31, 2024, at the Mercure BSD Hotel, South Tangerang, Banten. In the first session of the event, KEMITRAAN, along with WHRDs and civil society organizations, discussed forms of attacks against human rights defenders. This session was facilitated by representatives from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

Next, participants shared their experiences regarding criminalization threats against them. This session was led by representatives from the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), who explained the legal regulations used to criminalize WHRDs, including the Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE Law). Thus, they are able to deal with the law when criminalized under the ITE Law.

Subsequently, speakers from the South East Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) also shared with participants about digital security threats and recent developments following the enactment of revisions to the ITE Law. Participants shared their experiences of digital attacks and efforts made by individuals and their organizations to prevent and address these attacks.

The event not only discussed physical protection but also the mental health of WHRDs and members of civil society organizations actively advocating for human rights. This session was conducted by a speaker from Yayasan Pulih, emphasizing the importance of mental health for human rights activists. The advocacy process is often lengthy and exhausting, which can have detrimental effects on the mental health of human rights defenders.

The event was closed with a discussion with the commissioners of Komnas HAM, Komnas Perempuan, and the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK). During the discussion, PPHAM and civil society organizations submitted recommendations to revise existing regulations to create a holistic protection system for them.