Subject: Wiranto defends his track record before rights activists

also ICC Ratification No Panacea To End Impunity: Marty

The Jakarta Post

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wiranto defends his track record before rights activists

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Vice presidential candidate Wiranto still defended his past performance in the military and the government, despite being bombarded by questions and condemnations from human rights activists and victims at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI) building on Thursday.

The former chief commander of the Indonesian Military and defense minister who was asked to take responsibility for past human rights abuses in Aceh, the former East Timor province and the May 1998 riots, insisted he had not been involved in the incidents that he said had claimed many lives, as a consequence of measures taken by the government.

A number of human rights activists and law experts, including Todung Mulya Lubis, Bambang Widjojanto, Adnan Buyung Nasution and Gusti Randa, grilled Wiranto about the incidents at the YLBHI building.

Outside, dozens of relatives of human rights victims yelled out against Wiranto's vice presidency, demanding the government form an ad hoc human rights court to try him.

Wiranto, also chairman of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), reiterated no courts had so far found him guilty of any of the cases. "It doesn't mean I'm not untouchable. I have followed all the processes, but I have never been declared a suspect or a defendant in any human rights case," he said.

He however apologized for his mistakes because he himself regretted the incidents "and the public should also respect my human rights to defend myself".

Human Rights Working Group coordinator Rafendi Djamin and executive director of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace Setara Hendardi Thursday reminded the public former generals Wiranto and Prabowo had previously been implicated in a series of human rights violations.

Prabowo, who was former chief of the Army's Strategic Reserve Force (Kostrad), has paired up with Megawati Soekarnoputri for the presidential election.

"It is impossible for presidential and vice presidential candidates who have gross human rights violation records to enforce human rights," Rafendy said.

He said the two were using the campaign season to redress their poor track record.

Hendardi opposed the dialogue and said their visit to the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation building would certainly aggravate human rights victims and their relatives.

Hendardi said the two's human rights campaigns were really a manipulation of facts in which they were part of the problem to be solved, and voters should not be deceived by their empty political pledges. (fmb)

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The Jakarta Post Friday, June 12, 2009

ICC Ratification No Panacea To End Impunity: Marty

Ary Hermawan , The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The ratification of the Rome Statute is no panacea to abolish impunity, and the fact Indonesia has yet to ratify the treaty does not cause any disadvantages to the country, says a top diplomat.

The Rome Statute is a treaty to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The United States is against the treaty, while Indonesia is one of the countries that have signed but not ratified it.

"There are other ways and means by which Indonesia can demonstrate [its] opposition to impunity and promote of human rights," Indonesianpermanent representative to the United Nations, Marty Natalegawa, told The Jakarta Post recently.

"While we are yet to ratify the ICC, there are important elements of the statute that have been taken to on board our national legislations on human rights," Marty said, referring to the 2006 Human Rights Tribunal Law, which had prosecuted perpetrators of violence in East Timor (now Timor Leste), Tanjung Priok and Abepura.

While being championed as a beacon of democracy and defender of human rights in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy, has been harshly criticized for failing to resolve alleged rights violations in the impoverished but resource-rich Papua province.

Human Rights Watch recently urged the government to investigate allegations of prison brutality in Abepura Prison, in whichprisoners, dozens of them alleged separatists, have reportedly been tortured and beaten.

Meanwhile, the failure to unravel the mystery behind the killing of rights defender Munir Said Thalib and also the vice presidential nominations of two retired military generals - Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto - allegedly linked to the murders and kidnappings of anti-Soeharto activists in 1998 riots are fueling suspicions Indonesia is dragging its feet on ratifying the accord.

According to a 2006 presidential decree outlining the country's human rights agenda, Indonesia should have ratified the treaty last year. TheSusilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration, however, has failed to do so due to sluggish deliberation.

Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry's director general for human rights protection, told the Post the government was still drafting a document highlighting the benefits of ratifying.

The ministry planned to complete the document this year, but Harkristuti said she could not comment on whether the deliberation process at the House of Representatives would be swift enough to get the treaty ratified this year.

Marty denied the government was having second thoughts about the ICC, as suggested by a number of rights activists, saying there was no "sinister reason" behind the ratification delay.

When asked whether the Papua issue had undermined the ICC ratification, Marty said, "An instrument like the ICC is far too important in terms of our commitment to be simply decided on one or two issues. Because when you ratify it, you ratify it forever."

"We can't afford to have a view that is simply governed and determined by one issue. We have signed it and will look at the various implications to ensure our core national interests are served by ratifying it."


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