Subject: JP: Retroactive Clause Scrapped From Rights Tribunal Bill

Also: Kompas - ETimor ad hoc court can be set up by presidential decree

Jakarta Post March 20, 2000

Retroactive clause scrapped from rights tribunal bill

JAKARTA (JP): The government has scrapped the controversial retroactive clause from the human rights bill and proposed that past human rights violations be tried in an ad hoc tribunal.

"The bill would give the House of Representatives authority to set up an ad hoc tribunal to try past human rights violations," rights activist Munir of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) told reporters on Saturday.

Munir was speaking after attending the final session to fine-tune the bill at the Ministry of Law and Legislation.

He said the draft law, which could provide the key legal instrument to try top military generals for human rights abuses in East Timor last year, would be submitted to the House early this week.

"The plan is to send the final draft law (on rights court) to the law and legislation minister (Yusril Ihza Mahendra) today for approval and then the draft is expected to be submitted to the House either on Tuesday or Wednesday," Munir said of the bill which, as it stands, comprises 41 articles.

The bill will replace the government regulation in lieu of the law on human rights tribunal which was rejected by the House last Tuesday.

The retroactive clause has met with challenges from legal experts who say the term is uncommon in present Indonesian law.

They also said the retroactive clause would create more controversy as its exact period would always spark debate.

Many believe that the new bill would be able to break the cycle of impunity in the country as it includes an article which can snare even those who aided and abetted human rights violations.

Article 35 of the bill, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, stipulates that "every state official, military or police officer, who allows or fails to prevent his or her subordinates from committing gross human violations is liable to face the same possible punishment as those who directly commit violations".

The bill varies punishment from three years to life imprisonment.

It remains unclear whether the bill, if passed by the House, could be imposed on those implicated with human rights abuses in East Timor last year. The government of president B.J. Habibie proposed the government regulation in lieu of the law on human rights tribunal last year to avoid any international court for alleged perpetrators of East Timor violence.

Yusril said the bill could be passed in three months.

Also present on Saturday were chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights Djoko Soegianto, commission members Benjamin Mangkoedilaga and Soelistyowati Soegondo, prominent defense lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution and legal expert Loebby Loqman. (byg)

Note from TAPOL: March 20, 2000 For clarification: The draft bill makes a distinction between the permanent human rights court which will not be retroactive and ad hoc courts, which can be set up to try past crimes against humanity. Hence it 'kills (rather, gives birth to!) two birds with one stone'. I reckon that East Timor will be at the head of the queue for getting an ad hoc court as this is what all the haste has been about precisely to pre-empt an international tribunal which could be set up by the UN. One of the flaws in the final draft is that the list of crimes against humanity is not complete, for instance it does not include forced mass deportations. However, Munir is quoted as saying in another press report that he feels confident that this and other flaws can be corrected when the bill is discussed in parliament.

Kompas 20 March 2000 ETimor ad hoc court can be set up by presidential decree

Summary only

According to Munir, a member of the drafting committee of the Human Rights Court bill that held its final meeting on Saturday, it will be possible, once the bill is passed into law, for an ad hoc court on East Timor to be set up by presidential decree.

He said that there were still some flaws in the draft bill but these will be attached to a note that will accompany the bill when it is presented to the DPR so that the amendments can be made in parliament.

He said that the final draft of the bill now includes a point - Article 5 (f) - making 'enforced displacements' one of the grave crimes covered by the law. This was absent from the penultimate draft.

He said that the minimum age of 50 years set in Article 27 for persons who can be appointed as ad hoc judges is also a problem as this would bar many people who have spent years working on human rights from becoming ad hoc judges.

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