Subject: JP: Indonesia questions standard of rights tribunal

The Jakarta Post April 27, 2002

RI questions standard of rights tribunal

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government questioned on Friday the international standards in the human rights tribunal demanded by the international community for Indonesia to accomplish, saying that even the UN had failed to achieve quick results in similar cases.

Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra told the media on Friday that in the recently concluded human rights meeting in Geneva, the European Union asked Indonesia to conduct the current rights trial in accordance with international standards, but failed to specify them.

"If they say Indonesia is slow in dealing with the human rights violation cases, we all know that former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was brought before an international tribunal ten years after he committed the crimes," Yusril.

"We all know what happened in the Vietnam war in the 1970s, and the UN has never brought anyone to international tribunal for the killings," he said.

"If they accuse us of being too slow, please show us in what cases the UN acted more quickly than our government has done now," the minister added.

Indonesia has come under strong criticism for dragging its feet in prosecuting alleged perpetrators of gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999.

Military-backed militia groups wreaked havoc in East Timor in 1999 after its population voted overwhelmingly to break away from Indonesia in a UN-organized referendum.

A total of 18 senior civilian leaders and military personnel are either being tried or will be tried in an ad hoc rights tribunal for failure to stem the mayhem that killed dozens of innocent proindependence supporters and destroyed almost 80 percent of the infrastructure in the former 27th province of Indonesia.

The outcome of the trial could determine the restoration of military cooperation between Indonesia and the United States, suspended in 1999, following the mayhem in East Timor.

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