Subject: Rights tribunal judges will be impartial: Indon Chief Justice

The Jakarta Post October 23, 2001

Rights tribunal judges will be impartial, Bagir says

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak and Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Chief Justice Bagir Manan said on Monday that, to ensure impartiality, no police or military personnel would sit on the panel of judges for the ad hoc human rights tribunal.

"God willing, we will not include any military or police personnel as non-career judges because they harbor personal interests. I truly hope that without them the career and non-career judges on the tribunal will be impartial," Bagir said.

Bagir met with members of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and officials of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights at his office.

They discussed preparations for the ad hoc tribunal that will try human rights violations in East Timor between April and September 1999 and the Tanjung Priok massacre of September 1984. Trials are expected to start in December.

"We expect that in 10 days the team in charge of establishing the tribunal will have recruited non-career judges, the names of whom we will have to announce before they are taken to the President for approval," Bagir said.

A Supreme Court source said that the decision not to involve police and military personnel in the team was taken after a lively debate.

Meanwhile, Justice Benyamin Mangkoedilaga, head of the team screening the judges for both the ad hoc and permanent tribunals, assured that the ad hoc tribunal would commence activities in December after already experiencing several delays.

The permanent tribunal is set to try rights abuses committed after November 2000.

"By November, the team will announce the names of 60 judges, both career and non-career. They will undergo training on human rights tribunals on Nov. 6," he said.

Most of the non-career judges are selected from among academics at universities nationwide that have study centers on human rights, while others are noted figures whose activities are related to rights issues.

The ad hoc tribunal is being formed to try people suspected of violating human rights in the 1984 bloodshed at Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, and the 1999 clashes in East Timor.

Komnas HAM chairman Djoko Soegianto said that the commission would request a presidential decree for the inclusion of rights abuses in Abepura, Irian Jaya, in the December trials.

Violence broke out in Abepura on Dec. 27, 2000, in which two police officers were killed. In subsequent incidents, police attacked three dormitories and detained hundreds of occupants; three of whom were found dead in detention.

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