Subject: Benjamin Mangkoedilaga: Do Not Put Too Much Hope On RI-E Timor CTF

Tempo Magazine No. 48/VIII/29 July - 04 Augut, 2008


Benjamin Mangkoedilaga: The community should not hope for too much

FOR almost three years, the Truth and Friendship Commission (KKP) has sought to cast light on human rights abuses that occurred in the chaos that followed the 1999 referendum in East Timor. The Commission, a joint effort of the governments of Indonesia and East Timor (now Timor Leste), has now concluded that human rights abuses did happen in the former Indonesian territory.

The KKP's report, entitled Per Memoriam ad Spem (Through Memory Towards Hope), does not deal with prosecutions. In Nusa Dua, Bali, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Jose Ramos-Horta agreed that the matter should end there.

Last Monday, Tempo managed to get an interview with the former Chairman of the Commission, Benjamin Mangkoedilaga. The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court explained that the KKP was restricted to investigating the facts and determining collective responsibility.

The decision of the KKP is widely discussed. What is your explanation?

We carried out our mandate, based on the terms of reference provided by officials from the Indonesian and Timor Leste Foreign Affairs Departments in 2005. In essence, the Commission could not look at individual responsibility, only collective and institutional responsibility.

But the community believes that this body can bring the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice…

The Commission is not a judicial institution that can bring individuals to court. The community should not place too much hope on the Commission to give recommendations as to who is guilty—it is not like the investigations carried out by the Commission for the Investigation of Human Rights Violations. Our work has involved the examination of four documents, namely the reports of the National Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations in East Timor, the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor in Indonesia, the Special Panel for Serious Crimes, and the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor Leste.

How would you describe the investigation process?

From these documents, we have established a forum for hearing views and interviewing involved parties. We have also received documents handed over voluntarily.

In the report, the KKP states that human rights violations were perpetrated by institutions. Which institutions?

States, meaning the governments of Indonesia and Timor Leste. The most serious human rights violations were carried out by both of these parties, and the state was morally and politically involved.

If the state was responsible, shouldn't the individuals involved be brought before the courts?

No. From the beginning we were not investigating personal guilt.

According to the National Human Rights Commission, victims of the violence should demand that the perpetrators of human rights violations be brought before the International Criminal Court…

I value that opinion. However, many in the community have not fully considered the matter, for example who will fund the prosecution if the accused are brought before the International Criminal Court. Further, according to the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court, cases can only be brought before the International Court after a recommendation from the Security Council or the UN General Assembly.

Couldn't a UN recommendation be made on the basis of the results of the KKP's investigation?

In fact, at the time that Timor Leste separated from Indonesia, the Security Council established a commission of experts in response to calls for Indonesia to be brought before the International Criminal Court. They decided to wait for the results of the KPP's investigation. However, we did not report our results to them. We only reported to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Ramos-Horta.


We valued what was said by Ramos-Horta, Xanana Gusmao, and Mari Alkatiri. Horta said, "Don't listen to calls for this incident between Indonesia and Timor Leste to be taken to an international forum." Likewise, Xanana has said that he did not intend for the issue to be taken to the International Criminal Court. Mari Alkatiri, the leader of Fretilin, has also stated that he was not interested in listening to those in Timor Leste who want to bring this problem before an international court. So, if the three leaders of Timor Leste have said as much, what should we do?

From the time the KKP's report was released until now, there has been no reaction from the Security Council?

None. Yet, the two neighbors are at peace, they live side by side. We should not disturb this.

What is the status of the Commission now?

Since March 31, the Commission's work has been regarded as finished. The personnel are back to life as usual. There are those who have gone back to the regular army, and those who have returned to the Department of Foreign Affairs. As for me, I will go back to teaching.

D.A. Candraningrum, Grace S. Gandhi

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