Subject: ‘Without Human Rights Law, KPP-HAM Report is Nothing’ -Komnas HAM Chairman

Also: Debate on human rights tribunal bill continues

Indonesian Observer February 16, 2000

‘Without Law, KPP HAM Report is Nothing’

JAKARTA (IO) — Chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Djoko Soegianto says Indonesia must enact a law on human rights, because without one it will be impossible to bring to trial those accused of last year’s violations in East Timor.

"Without one, the reports from the Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Abuses in East Timor [KPP HAM] mean nothing," Soegianto said after a meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid at the Bina Graha presidential palace here yesterday to hand over the commission’s final reports.

KPP HAM’s first report, released on January 31, implicated 33 people in the East Timor mayhem, including former military chief General Wiranto and five other senior military members.

The report prompted Wahid, better known as Gus Dur, to this week remove Wiranto from his position as chief security minister.

The government last year ordered Komnas HAM to form KPP HAM, to investigate September’s violence in East Timor, which erupted after the territory voted overwhelmingly on August 30 to secede from Indonesia.

A regulation on human rights, called a Perpu, has been drafted by the government in anticipation of the trials for those accused of human rights abuses in East Timor and other regions.

However, the House of Representatives (DPR) is likely to reject the Perpu on the grounds that it is too vague and lacks detail. DPR members have already said the government should instead issue a draft law on human rights trials.

Although the DPR will probably pass such a law, there may be further legal wrangles, as the law would be enacted after the East Timor crimes took place.


Soegianto said even though Indonesia is yet to ratify several international conventions on human rights, those tasked to investigate the East Timor reports must focus on such conventions. "Prosecutors and judges who will handle the problems must concentrate on them," said Soegianto.

The Komnas HAM chief said he and Wahid had discussed what sort of judges will be appointed to lead the human rights trials.

"The Perpu stated that judges may be appointed for the Human Rights Trial Council. The word ‘may’ must be replaced with ‘must’," he said.

"We know that most [Indonesian] prosecutors and judges have not mastered human rights problems, particularly in connection with international human rights laws. But when holding human rights trials, it’s impossible to ignore international laws," he added.

Wahid’s criticism

Commenting on Gus Dur’s statement that KPP HAM’s investigation of Wiranto and other military officers was not entirely fair, Soegianto stressed the commission had done everything by the book, as it had questioned both pro-Jakarta and anti-Jakarta factions from East Timor.

"I think we conducted our tasks in line with standard procedures, so who’s being unfair?" he asked.

Soegianto said he asked Wahid to explain his criticism. "The president only said: ‘Why don’t you just submit the reports now,’" he said.

Soegianto was accompanied at the meeting by several Komnas HAM members, including Deputy Chairman Bambang W. Suharto, Secretary General Asmara Nababan, former KPP HAM chairman Albert Hasibuan and H.S. Dillon. -----

Jakarta Post February 17, 2000

Debate on human rights tribunal bill continues

JAKARTA (JP): Legal experts debated on Wednesday the appropriateness of a retroactive clause within a new bill on a human rights tribunal saying that the term is uncommon in present Indonesian law.

Article 1 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, for example, stipulates that an offense can only be tried under a law that has been in place before the crime occurs.

Speaking at a seminar to fine-tune the bill, which was scheduled to be submitted to the House of Representatives next month, the experts also said that the retroactive clause would create more controversy as its exact period would always be debated.

"Some have suggested a period of 15 years, but I am sure that many will disagree because they will think that this is discrimination," criminal code expert Loebby Loqman said.

Human rights lawyer Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, who was also speaking on Wednesday, said, however, that past human rights abuses would remain unresolved if the retroactive clause was deleted.

"We should not be too rigid and we should also consider the sense of justice everyone is clamoring for," Abdul Hakim said.

The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Law and Legislation and was attended by government officials, police and military officers and human rights activists.

Also speaking on Wednesday was the director general for law and legislation, Romly Atmasasmita, former justice minister Muladi and rights activist Munir.

Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra said earlier that political compromises would eventually be needed to settle the debate over the retroactive clause within the bill.

Yusril also said "inflexibility" would not solve the problem and called on the public to have a thorough discussion to reach a political decision on the matter.

Many believe the bill will be the key legal instrument to try former Indonesian Military chief Gen. Wiranto and a number of senior military officers who have been implicated in the East Timor violence by a government inquiry.

The retroactive clause will provide a basis for trying rights violations occurring before the date of the bill's enactment.

The bill also includes an article which can charge those who aided and abetted human rights violations, regardless of their presence at the scene where the offences took place.

Meanwhile, Romly said the retroactive clause was implemented to try those involved in "serious" international crimes.

"Human rights violations are not regular criminal offences so we have to use both national and international standards," said Romly, who is also a leading member of the group of experts helping to draft the bill.

"Indonesia, as a member of the United Nations, must acknowledge and accept that," Romly added.

Skeptics have said the government lacks a credible independent legal system to conduct prosecutions.

They said the government at present does not have the legislation, the institutions or the procedures to bring serious perpetrators of international crimes to justice.

The government has rejected calls for an international tribunal to try those involved in the East Timor violence, and appealed to members of the UN Security Council to allow Jakarta to handle the issue domestically. (byg)

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