Subject: JP: AGO told to also focus on human rights cases

National News November 04, 2004

AGO told to also focus on human rights cases

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

A human rights watchdog urged the Attorney General's Office (AGO) on Wednesday to prioritize the investigation of rights cases submitted to the office by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) said the Attorney General's Office should investigate alleged rights violations and restore public confidence in the country's ad hoc rights tribunal, which lost much of its credibility in the East Timor and Tanjung Priok trials.

"The AGO must follow up on the investigation results of rights violation cases by Komnas HAM," Amiruddin, the head of the information and cooperation division at ELSAM, said.

Amiruddin specifically pointed to the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II shootings and the May 1998 riots.

The commission has submitted the results of its own investigations into these cases to the Attorney General's Office, but it remains unclear whether the office will prosecute the cases.

Komnas HAM also has investigated bloody raids against civilians in Wasior and Wamena, both in Papua, in 2001 and 2003 respectively, and has submitted the results to the Attorney General's Office.

ELSAM said there was no reason for the Attorney General to ignore the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II cases, or the attacks in Wasior and Wamena, as they did not need approval from the House of Representatives to prosecute the cases.

"They only need to talk to the Supreme Court about the trials," Amiruddin said, adding that the cases were considered rights violations.

For the case of the May 1998 riots, which is considered a gross rights violation, ELSAM called on the Attorney General to ask the House to establish an ad hoc rights tribunal to hear the case.

"The AGO must make a decision on it soon in a bid to give legal certainty both to the suspects and the victims. They have been waiting for justice for so long," Amiruddin said.

Also for the sake of legal certainty, the Attorney General's Office must set a schedule to settle all rights violation cases it is currently handling, he added.

"By making a schedule, both the suspects and the victims know that they are not being ignored. Prosecutors, too, will not be lazy in handling the cases," Amiruddin said.

Zainal Abidin, a fellow researcher, said the Attorney General must assign special prosecutors to handle these cases.

He said the performance of the Attorney General's Office in handling these rights cases would affect the credibility of the country in enforcing human rights protection.

"The failure to address the issue, however, will likely close the opportunity for the AGO to improve its image," Zainal said.

The AGO has often been criticized for dragging its feet in investigating rights cases and large corruption cases.

In line with the policy of new President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh has said that he will focus on the settlement of corruption cases.

He also has promised to examine the possible reasons behind his office's slow response to rights violation cases.

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