Subject: Agus Widjojo says TNI rejects human rights training

The Jakarta Post June 22, 2001

Agus says TNI rejects human rights training

JAKARTA (JP): The international workshop on crimes against humanity ended on Thursday in controversy over the need to adopt human rights principles in the military.

It was the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief of territorial affairs Lt. Gen. Agus Widjojo who sparked the debate, saying that soldiers do not need human rights training since it could create "confusion" while undertaking their duties.

Speaking at the workshop, Agus rejected suggestions coming from the floor, that supported the adoption of an international convention which allows soldiers to refuse "unlawful orders" from their immediate commander, allowing them to escape prosecution for violating any laws.

"Soldiers cannot refuse to carry out an order from their commander because they are not trained to think. All thinking is done by their commanders," he told the workshop which began on Wednesday.

"What we need to better the situation is to create regulations which limit the military by imposing perimeters on each military operation. The military always complies with the law."

TNI, as well as National Police, has added human rights to the curriculum for military cadets.

Indonesia has partially adopted the convention in Law No. 26/2000 on Human Rights Tribunals, which stipulates that commanders can stand trial for crimes against humanity for any human rights violations committed by their troops.

Agus was speaking in a session discussing the military command responsibility related to human rights violations.

Also speaking in the session were Indonesian lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, Judge Lennart Aspegren of Sweden, Maj. Gen. Arne Willy Dahl of Norway and law professor Francoise Hampson of Britain.

They concluded that commanders -- both in military and civil institutions -- are to be held responsible for any rights abuse perpetrated by their men and that such cases should be brought to human rights tribunals.

But they acknowledged that in Indonesia, the military command responsibility always refers to military law which gives impunity to the commander regardless of the law on human rights tribunals.

Upon opening the workshop on Wednesday, President Abdurrahman Wahid renewed his condemnation of human rights abuses, many of which involved military and police.

In response to Agus' view, secretary-general of the National Commission on Human Rights Asmara Nababan underlined the fact that soldiers have been equipped with human rights pocket books.

"Soldiers are human, they need to think. I think there should be a balance between a firm chain of command and acknowledgement of the soldiers' humanity," he said after the closing of the workshop.

The workshop also ended with a proposal to form a working group comprising police, military, judges, prosecutors, lawyers and the rights commission members to work on an addendum to the law on human rights tribunals.

Rights activist Soetandyo Wignjosoebroto said the result of the workshop would be submitted to the government for further implementation, including the ratification of the International Criminal Code statute on the prosecution of human rights atrocities.(bby)


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