Subject: AFP: Indonesian Rights Lawyers Protest Draft Rights Bill

Indonesian rights group protests draft rights bill

JAKARTA, March 13 (AFP) - A group of human rights lawyers on Monday protested as unecessary and flawed a draft bill being prepared by the government to pave the way for the creation of a human rights court in Indonesia.

The Indonesian Association of Legal Counsels on Law and Human Rights said in a statement that it "rejected" the draft bill on a special court for human rights cases.

"The term and existence of a human rights court is unknown in the practice of human rights enforcement in the world," APHI said.

It also said that such a court would be ineffective because under the draft law, it could only judge cases that had taken place after it was set up.

"What is needed now is the formulation of a draft bill for the convening of special courts which would be ad hoc in nature, so that they can retro-actively judge specific cases of human rights violations," APHI said.

The group also said that any draft bill should include several international legal instruments that would guarantee a process of law that would be in line with international practices.

APHI said it had already prepared draft bills for three ad hoc courts, each of which would specifically address human rights violations in Aceh, East Timor and Tanjung Priok.

The three bills will be handed over to the House of Representatives later on Monday, said APHI chairman Hotma Timbul Hutapea.

The Aceh case involves violations in anti-rebel operations since 1989, Timor with human rights violations during the post-ballot violence in September and the Tanjung Priok case refers to the shooting of Muslim protestors in the port area of Jakarta in 1984.

Law and Legislation Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said the draft bill currently before parliament on a special human rights court was expected to be completed within three months.

"Then we can set up a human rights tribunal. It is impossible to form a human rights tribunal without the law," Mahendra said, according to the online news service.

Indonesia is under international pressure to bring those involved in the human rights abuses in East Timor last year to justice.

An Indonesian inquiry into the Timor violence has named 33 military and civilian officials, including former Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto, as responsible for the September violence carried out by army-backed militia.

Wiranto has denied any wrongdoing.

The UN Human Rights Commission has made its own inquiry into the violence in East Timor and recommended convening an international war crimes tribunal to prosecute suspects.

However, it said it is waiting to see if the Indonesian process brings the guilty to justice.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who last month dropped Wiranto from his cabinet until the legal process over the East Timor violence is completed, has said he would pardon him if he was found guilty.

But the government has said it would not be bound by any UN move to initiate prosecution proceedings through an international court.

Officials have said that if the matter goes to the Security Council, they feel confident of a veto from China.

The Indonesian team set up by the attorney general's office to investigate the inquiry's report is expected to hand over preliminary findings to Attorney General Marzuki Darusman later on Monday.

"The team is going to hand over its assessment of KPP-HAM's (the inquiry's) report ... on Monday," Darusman was quoted by the Jakarta Post daily as saying over the weekend.

But he said no suspects would be named, and that the 35-member team would "only recommend what further steps should be taken" in the probe of the violence that left hundreds dead and whole towns burned to the ground.

Back to March Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from