IMPUNITY AND THE INDONESIAN MASTERS OF TERROR
UN HRCOUNCIL/ INDONESIA: The Question of Impunity in Indonesia
The existing judicial mechanisms in Indonesia are more geared towards granting impunity to perpetrators of human rights violations than providing justice to the victims.
For many years now, victims of torture and disappearances have longed for justice; a fundamental right that has so far been denied to them. The failings of the state institutions that were instrumental in perpetuating such crimes have so far not been reformed. The Attorney General’s Department, which is crucial in prosecuting the perpetrators of human rights violations despite change of personnel is seen to be willfully abdicating its role and this is evident from the following:
1. Failure of the Attorney General to fulfil basic duties:
The Attorney General's refusal to act on the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) concerning the abductions, torture and disappearance of several democracy activists in 1998 and 1999, speaks for itself.
In a report presented on December 8, 2006, Komnas HAM has accused the Attorney General of failing in his basic duties and obligations by not bringing charges against the alleged perpetrators of the abductions carried out in 1998 and 1999. Komnas HAM Official Enny Suprapto said: In spite of the significant evidence that we have found, the Attorney General's Office refused to carry out its own investigation. It has refused to seek testimony from experts or look for new evidence at locations considered to be places where the activists were allegedly held captive".
The reluctance of the Attorney General to conduct further investigations and recommend that these cases be prosecuted by the Ad-hoc Human Rights Tribunal has perplexed many both locally and internationally.
Article 20 of Law 26 of 2000 stipulates:
1. Should the National Commission on Human Rights consider there is sufficient
preliminary evidence that a gross violation of human rights has occurred, a summary of the findings of the inquiry shall be submitted to the investigator.
2. No later than 7 (seven) working days following the submission of the summary findings of inquiry, the National Commission on Human Rights shall submit the inquiry findings in full to the investigator.
3. In the event that the investigator considers the inquiry findings referred to in clause (2) insufficient, the inquirer shall immediately re-submit the inquiry findings to the investigator accompanied by guidelines for their completion, and within 30 (days) of receiving the inquiry findings, the investigator is required to consummate these insufficiencies.
2. No justice for the Victims of Tanjung Priok, Trisakti and Semanggi 1 and 2
The Ad-hoc Human Rights Tribunal, which heard the case of Tanjung Priok, has recently acquitted all the suspects, much to the horror of the victims. This case concerns a massacre that occurred on September 12, 1984, in which hundreds of persons were shot during a mass prayer session, following a series of provocations by the Indonesian army in and around a mosque in the port area of Jakarta.
The gross human rights violations committed both by the Military and the Police in the murder of more than 33 young students in Trisakti and Semanggi in 1998 and 1999 have also suffered a similar fate. These students were shot dead by Indonesian police and soldiers in three separate incidents in Trisakti and Semanggi between May 1998 and September 1999.Three military tribunals were convened to look into the killings and 15 officers were found guilty of conspiracy to commit mass murder. However, none of them have been held accountable for their actions and no independent judicial inquiries have been conducted concerning these incidents.
Komnas HAM conducted an inquiry into these cases and submitted its official findings to the Attorney General in 2002. In its report it concluded that elements in the Indonesian police and military were responsible for gross violations of human rights. However, the Attorney General has consistently refused to follow up on the inquiry and conduct an investigation into the killings such being vital if the incidents are to be considered by an Ad-hoc human rights court.
Besides petty technical reasons, the Attorney General justified his inaction on the grounds of a recommendations by the Indonesian Parliament, which said the killings at Trisakti and Semanggi did not constitute gross violations of human rights. This recommendation was later revoked, thus allowing for the case to be submitted to the Parliament to be declared a case of gross human rights violations and then to be presented to the Ad-hoc Human Rights Tribunal. Nevertheless the Attorney General has stubbornly refused to follow through in taking the case to its logical conclusion.
The Ad-hoc Human Rights Tribunal (Courts), created with the explicit purpose of delivering justice in cases involving gross violation of human rights, has also failed miserably in its mission. For instance, regarding the human rights violations committed in East Timor and Tanjung Priok, all alleged perpetrators have either been acquitted or granted formal immunity.
AlJazeeraEnglish | 15 mei 2008
101 East asks if a culture of Impunity is embedded in Indonesia.