Mon, 14 Feb 2000

ACILS says Smith was only questioned

JAKARTA (JP): Roger Anthony Smith of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) has a valid work permit and residence permit and was only questioned by the police for allegedly violating existing immigration regulations, representatives of the center said.

"He was never arrested, only questioned over the matter. Not a single staff member of ACILS has been arrested," ACILS said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Police intelligence officers questioned the Australian national over his alleged role in a series of street protests here.

Col. Saleh Saaf of the National Police information unit told reporters last week that Smith had been accused of violating prevailing immigration regulations by participating in rallies on labor issues and collecting data on Indonesian laborers.

"He'll be charged under Article 50 of Law No. 9/1992 on immigration regulations. There are four other Australian nationals whom we have held for questioning over Anthony's case, as witnesses," he said on Thursday.

"He also does not have an SKLD (official letter from immigration stating that the bearer has reported to immigration after entering the country)."

The statement of ACILS, which has been working in Indonesia for the past 25 years, said further that Smith had always obeyed the laws and rules of Indonesia.

His lawyer, Dhananta A. Wibawa, said separately in a statement that his client's presence in the country was legal and was supported by the necessary work and residence permits.

"What the police have said about my client, that he was actively involved as a provocateur and rallied in several labor protests, is not true," Dhananta said.

"Our client was present at protests and labor trials and at several labor activities, because it is what his work requires him to do. It does not violate any law... our client only observed what bad luck our laborers here have to face."

"The police are lying if they say that our client was arrested."

According to officer Saleh, Smith was supposed to be working as a program consultant for the health and pharmacy division of the All-Indonesia Worker's Union (SPSI).

"Instead, he participated in meetings that discussed labor union activities, in board meetings that tell of union problems with businesses here, and also found time to monitor labor rallies," he said. (ylt)