Indonesia: Unfair Targeting of Vulnerable Woman

In Indonesia, TrialWatch reporting helped secure the acquittal of a Catholic woman unfairly targeted by the State. Suzethe Margaret, who had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was charged with blasphemy after she ‘heard voices’ telling her that her husband was getting married at a mosque and, under this delusion, entered the mosque with her shoes on and with her dog—conduct prohibited by Islam.

The report on the case found that the blasphemy law was applied in a discriminatory manner: in particular, the authorities brought charges in the wake of calls from hardline groups that Ms. Margaret be punished and “[d]espite overwhelming evidence that Ms. Margaret’s diagnosed psychosocial disability was the cause of the incident.”

International pressure, including TrialWatch monitoring and reporting, contributed to her acquittal and the upholding of this decision on appeal, meaning that she did not have to serve jail time.

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.

Dr. Charles O’Mahony TrialWatch Expert