Subject: Indonesia told to get serious with rights tribunal

Also: Many doubt independence of rights tribunal

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The Jakarta Post January 22, 2002

RI told to get serious with rights tribunal

Annastashya Emmanuelle and Tertiani B. Simandjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR) told Indonesia on Monday to get serious about the upcoming rights tribunal, saying the international community was watching the proceedings closely.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's Office had not yet appointed the state prosecutors for the East Timor case, pending the induction of the 30 recently unveiled ad hoc judges by Chief Justice Bagir Manan later this month.

"The international community will monitor it intensively and is ready to provide technical assistance when needed," UNHCHR Chairman Leandro Despouy told the press after nearly two hours with President Megawati Soekarnoputri at the State Palace on Monday.

Despouy said the purpose of his three-day visit to Indonesia was to gather first-hand information about the judicial proceedings for the human rights violations that took place prior to and after the United Nations-organized ballot in East Timor in 1999.

After several delays, the government finally issued Presidential Decree No. 6/2002 last Monday appointing 30 ad hoc judges to try human rights violations in East Timor before and after the 1999 ballot, as well as the 1984 Tandjung Priok shooting incident.

During the UN-sponsored ballot, the East Timorese people overwhelmingly voted to reject autonomy -- and put an end to Indonesia's presence after more than two decades of bloody integration -- triggering unprecedented violence that killed perhaps hundreds of independence supporters in the former Portuguese colony.

The Attorney General's Office has named 19 suspects, including senior and mid-ranking military and police officers such as Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, who headed the Udayana military command which had authority over East Timor, Brig. Gen. Suhartono Suratman and Brig. Gen. M. Nur Muis, former commanders of the Dili military command, Col. Yayat Sudrajat, the head of Tribuana Task Force, and Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen, former East Timor police chief.

The date of the tribunal, however, has not yet been confirmed.

Despouy said he appreciated steps taken by the Megawati administration in establishing the ad hoc human rights tribunal, following the country's commitment to process human rights violators through a national process in line with the Indonesian judicial system.

Earlier this month, East Timor's transitional government leaders talked of turning to an international tribunal due to Indonesia's delays in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The Attorney General's Office has appointed a total of 36 general prosecutors, including state prosecutors, former state prosecutors and military prosecutors, to represent the 12 dossiers on the East Timor atrocity at the tribunal.

"But the general prosecutors will not submit the case to the tribunal until all the judges are officially sworn in, as their ad hoc duty is only valid for 70 days," Attorney General's Office Spokesman Muljohardjo said on Monday.

The Supreme Court is yet to announce the exact date for swearing in of the ad hoc judges.

Prior to his visit to Jakarta, Despouy toured East Timor where he said, there seemed to be a climate and atmosphere of a good relationship developing between East Timor and Indonesia, and constructive progress in terms of the repatriation of refugees.

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The Jakarta Post

January 21, 2002

Many doubt independence of rights tribunal

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

While the human rights tribunal's ad hoc judges have yet to hear their first case, many people have already expressed doubts about whether such cases will be free from politicking.

M. Rifqie Moena of the Research Institute for Democracy and Peace (RIDeP) and Ori Rachman of the National Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) expressed their concerns on Saturday about whether President Megawati Sukarnoputeri would have the courage "to send the perpetrators of human rights violations to trial without putting her political position in danger."

Rifqie questioned whether there was any bargaining power as between civilian politicians and the military over cases classified as gross human rights violations.

"I don't believe the politicians can put the law before their political interests since we all know that any decision to bring all human rights violations to court will have political consequences, including those concerning position and power as well as support from the military," Rifqie said, pointing out that the military still occupied a prominent role in the country's day-to-day politics.

"I've even heard that the Presidential Decree appointing the ad hoc judges is full of legal loopholes such as limitations on the places in East Timor where the violence took place," Rifqie told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Amid mounting pressure from the international community and domestic Muslim groups, President Megawati issued a decree on Monday appointing 18 non-career judges to work together with 12 career judges in hearing two cases -- the 1999 violence in East Timor and the 1984 bloodshed in Tanjung Priok, which are considered as gross human rights violations.

However, three other cases deemed as gross human rights violations -- the Trisakti case, and Semanggi I and semanggi II incidents -- have been deliberately left out following a controversial recommendation from the House of Representatives last year that "the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II killings are not categorized as gross human rights violations."

The ethnic clashes in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, which took place between February and April of last year are also excluded from the rights tribunal's remit as the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), which conducted an investigation last year, declared the massacres not to be gross human rights violations.

At least 357 people, mostly Madurese, were killed in the massacres, while hundreds were injured and over 28,000 people forced to flee.

The government also has yet to show any intention of investigating the rights violations that have taken place in the sectarian conflicts in Poso, Central Sulawesi, and Maluku, which together have claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Rifqie said that should the government be serious in addressing rights violations across the country, it must also consider trying violations conducted by the military in the restive province of Aceh.

"The Acehnese have long been awaiting such a trial, but I don't understand why the government hasn't made it its top priority," Rifqie said.

Separately, Ori condemned the loopholes contained in Law No. 30/1999 on Human Rights as "it gives too much power to the politicians in the House to interfere in judicial matters."

"In many rights violation cases, the legislators have the power to drop them in accordance with their own political interests. Should this country have a willingness to stop such violence, as well as to make the perpetrators wary, they (the government and the House) must amend the law," said Ori, referring to the law's Article 89 (4).

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