Subject: Human Rights Probes Obstructed by AGO: Komnas HAM [incl: Papua, Trisakti]

The Jakarta Post Saturday, April 5, 2008

AGO 'hampers' probes into human rights violations

Lilian Budianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has accused the Attorney General's Office of obstructing human rights campaigns through its reluctance to investigate four past atrocities because of technicalities.

The commission's deputy chairman Ridha Saleh said Friday formal investigations into the incidents would have begun if the AGO did not apply double standards.

The four incidents are the killings in Wasior and Wamena in Papua in 2001 and 2003, respectively, the Trisakti University shooting and May riots in 1998, Semanggi I in 1998 and II in 1999 and the abduction of activists early in 1998.

The AGO returned the commission's reports on the atrocities Wednesday on the grounds the government had not set up the necessary ad hoc courts to hear the cases.

The Constitutional Court ruled in January the President had established an ad hoc court by taking into consideration the investigation by the rights body and formal investigation by the AGO.

Ridha deplored the AGO's reluctance, as under the law any investigation must be undertaken by the AGO.

"If the AGO will not launch an investigation into the cases, how can they recommend forming the ad hoc courts?" Ridha said.

In 2002, the House concluded the Trisakti and Semanggi I and II cases did not fall within the category of serious human rights violations and recommended the cases be settled by military or ordinary courts.

A number of police officers were tried and found guilty in a military court for their alleged role in the Trisakti and Semanggi I and II tragedies.

Ridha said alleged perpetrators from the military would only face disciplinary charges if they were tried in a military court.

The slow pace of the investigations into the past violence has sparked protests from rights groups, who demanded the House review its ruling.

Legislator Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa of Golkar Party, the biggest faction at the House, said Friday the House's decision was final despite the human rights commission's new findings.

"There are many pros and cons," he said.

"We will not make any further political decision on these cases, but the AGO can go ahead with a formal investigation."

Usman Hamid of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence said the government seemed reluctant to launch a formal investigation into the cases for fear of political consequences.

"The cases are not merely human rights issues. The government and the House have denied responsibility in order to ward off any adverse political impact," he said.

Commission member Nur Kholis said the state prosecutor who led the AGO investigation into the four cases should come to the commission to officially hand over documentation on the rights violations. (anw)

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