Subject: Komnas HAM Sec.Gen supports International Tribunal for Timor

The secretary-general of Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission, Komnas HAM, Asmara Nababan, said today for the first time that he would agree to the establishment of an international tribunal for East Timor. Here is a report from Radio Netherlands whose journalist interviewed Nababan:

Indonesian officials say that the situation in West Timor is now safe enough for UN officials to return and help the 50,000 or more East Timorese refugees still staying in camps there.

However, there is still no progress on the question of trying people for the human rights crimes in East Timor in 1999, a matter which continues to perplex the international community. It's nearly two years since those crimes were committed and only seventy days remain for this to happen.

Confronted by this dilemma, the secretary-general of Komnas HAM has stated for the first time, in an interview with Radio Netherlands, that he supports the idea of an international tribunal being set up.

RN: Why has it taken so long for the Indonesian government, and especially attorney-general Marzuki Darusman, to act on this?

AN: It has been difficult for Marzuki because an ad hoc human rights court for East Timor has not yet been set up. On 30 March, parliament (DPR), after coming under a great deal of pressure, agreed that ad hoc courts should be set up for East Timor and Tanjung Priok.

According to Law No 26/2000, these ad hoc courts must be set up by the president. Unless this happens, all the efforts of the attorney-general will be in vain. As far as I know, the president has not yet taken a decision to set up these courts though he has agreed that a permanent human rights court should be set up to try present and future crimes.

But ad hoc courts based on the principle of retroactivity are still needed.

RN: Why has it taken so long for the East Timor trials to be held?

AN: We here in Indonesia, including Komnas HAM, are asking ourselves the same question. The DPR failed to act on the matter for so long that Komnas HAM wrote urging them to take action, in line with the procedure. But now that the legislature has taken a decision, I cant explain why the executive is taking such a long time to follow this up.

It's likely that old forces are acting to prevent this from happening, or at least to delay it for as long as possible.

RN: In other words, some generals are exerting pressure on President Wahid and Marzuki not to set up these ad hoc courts?

AN: In the absence of any other explanation, such a possibility cannot be ruled out.

RN: But President Wahid and Marzuki certainly know that this is an international matter, that the world is watching closely with a great deal of concern. The Security Council is surely monitoring these developments. And this could accelerate steps to set up an International Tribunal, despite efforts to prevent this from happening by making moves to set up courts in Indonesia.

AN: Yes certainly, that was the intention. But there has been so much delay not only on the part of the executive but also by parliament. So who can blame the international community and groups here in Indonesia for coming

to the conclusion that the government is not serious about dealing with these crimes by setting up ad hoc courts? In other words, an International Tribunal will prove to be the only alternative if people's demands for justice are to be met.

RN: Do you yourself agree that it may be necessary to set up an International Tribunal?

AN: Yes, I agree. Bearing in mind all the delay, it is better to set up an International Tribunal. This is the only way for justice to be done.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 8HW, UK. tel +44 020 8771 2904 fax +44 020 8653 0322

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