Subject: Indonesia presumptuous to nominate itself as head of UN rights commission

Indonesia presumptuous to nominate itself as head of UN rights commission

Detik.com - October 28, 2004

Meriam Debora, Jakarta - Moves to nominate Indonesia as the head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and as a permanent member of the Security Council are presumptuous because of the many cases of human rights violations in Indonesia which have yet to be resolved.

This statement was made by the coordinator of the Committee for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Usman Hamid, during a press conference at the Kontras' offices on Jalan Borobudur Menteng in Central Jakarta on Thursday October 28.

"I think this is positive but the move is presumptuous bearing in mind that Indonesia's human rights record is not very good. For example the perpetrators of human rights violations in Tanjung Priok(1) and East Timor have been released. Not to mention the [question of the] ratification of a number of international conventions such as linking the principle of civil and political rights", said Hamid.

According to Hamid, if Indonesia is willing to ratify a number of international conventions then it is reasonable for the Indonesian government to nominate itself. "In spite of this we see that there is a good opportunity for Indonesia to become a member of the UN Security Council because of the political situation in [other] Asian [countries] which is no better than Indonesia", he continued.

Hamid went on to talk about the situation in various Asian countries with regard to human rights. "It's the turn for an Asian country to become the head of the UN Human Rights Commission for the 61st session next year. India and Pakistan have also nominated themselves to head the commission, but there is still the problem of the conflict in Kashmir and the gross human rights violations [occurring] there. Just recently in Thailand there has been serious crimes against humanity. Singapore does hot have civil liberties and instead tends toward authoritarianism, this is also the case in Malaysia", he explained.

Nevertheless said Hamid, support does exist for the nomination. "There may be some support, [because] the UN is in a dilemma. On the one side it is indeed Asia's turn and Indonesia has a good chance because it can be said that it is better than other Asian countries on the issue of human rights. But on the other hand the UN is still not satisfied [with Indonesia's record] because of the release of perpetrators of human rights crimes in East Timor", asserted Hamid.

Moreover, in Hamid's view the Indonesian government will be scorned upon by the international community. "Because on the one side, although it would hold a position of prestige, on the other they are aware that it is true that Indonesia has not fully implemented the country's [commitment] to advance and protect human rights. Just because Indonesia could holds a position of prestige this does not mean that Indonesia will be exempt from criticism or influence by the international community on efforts to uphold human rights", said Hamid. (dit)

Notes:

1. On 12 September 1984, dozens of people were killed and injured when troops fired on Muslim demonstrators in the port district of Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta. The perpetrators of the killings did not come to trial until 2003-2004 and the majority were released or given extremely light sentences.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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The INDOLEFT news service is produced by the Indonesian Centre for Reform and Social Emancipation (INCREASE) and Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific.

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NGOs give conditional support for Indonesia's bid to head rights commission

Kompas - October 29, 2004

Jakarta - A number of non-government organisations (NGOs) who are concerned with issues of human rights are supporting the Indonesian government's nomination as the head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission on the condition that the government must first resolve cases of human rights violations which have occurred in the country.

This was taken up during a press conference on Thursday October 28 which was attended by a number of NGOs including the Indonesian NGO Coalition for International Human Right Advocacy (HRWG), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (Elsam), Indonesian Human Rights Monitoring, Demos, the International NGO Forum for Indonesian Development (INFID) and the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PPHI).

In a joint press release the organisations said that for Indonesia to become a member of the UN Security Council it indeed appears ambitious and unrealistic. But for it to become the head of the UN Human Rights Commission for the 61st session next year is realistic in terms of the logic of international politics.

In addition to this, in nominating itself as the head of the Human Rights Commission, Indonesia has a number of advantages going for it. One of these is because it is Asia's turn and secondly because Indonesia is one of the countries which has the greatest chance because India and Pakistan, who have also nominated themselves, are blocked because they are in the midst of a dispute.

HRWG coordinator Rafendi Djamin said that Indonesia's chances of winning the position of head of the Human Rights Commission are very good. Indonesia therefore must demonstrate the highest international commitment to resolving cases of human rights violations such as those which have occurred in West Papua, Aceh and East Timor.

(sie/vin)

[Translated by James Balowski.]


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