Subject: Tempo: Indon Human Rights Court: Tough Battle Ahead

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

also: Half-Hearted Fight Against Human Rights Abuse

Tempo Magazine January 22-28, 2002

Special Report

Human Rights Court

Tough Battle Ahead

The president has recently appointed eighteen ad hoc Human Rights judges. Can Indonesia's Court of Human Rights function objectively and independently from the International Court of Justice?

Indonesia is endeavoring to improve its human rights record. Last week, President Megawati Sukarnoputri appointed 18 adhoc Human Rights judges to preside over cases involving crimes against humanity. Twelve of the judges were appointed to the court of first instance. The other six were appointed to the court of appeal. The panel of ad hoc judges comprises practicing judges and professors from various national universities.

This panel will shortly be officially inaugurated and assigned to positions at the Central Jakarta District Court. Each judge will receive a basic monthly salary of Rp1 million (US$100 at Rp10,000 to the US dollar) and Rp4.5 million (US$450) for each case they preside over. Hotel and transportation costs whilst in Jakarta for judges originating from the provinces will be borne by the government.

In February, the panel of ad hoc Human Rights judges will preside over its first case-the post-referendum crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999. Following this, the panel will hear the human rights abuses committed in Tanjungpriok, North Jakarta in 1984. Unfortunately, no investigations have previously been conducted into either the Tanjungpriok case or the East Timor case. Both may be classified as crimes of genocide.

The appointment of the panel of 18 ad hoc Human Rights judges is not free from controversy. Although many people are hopeful that the appointment of the judges will improve Indonesia's international image by illustrating its commitment to uphold human rights, many people are critical of the development.

Legal practitioner and human rights advocate T. Mulya Lubis says that the selection of ad hoc judges was premature. According to Mulya, "there are many holes". For example, one of the appointed ad hoc judges, Hendra Nurtjahyo, is only 33 years old. The Law on the Indonesian Court of Human Rights of 2000 stipulates that the minimum age of prospective ad hoc judges is 45. Hendra, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Indonesia (UI) has since resigned from his posting.

Bambang Widjojanto, former chairman of Indonesian Legal Aid, expressed similar criticism. According to him, the rushed appointment of the panel of ad hoc judges made it difficult for the selection committee to inspect their resumes. Bambang also claims that "[the judges] training as prospective ad hoc judges was very short".

Todung Mulya Lubis has pointed out another issue of contention. According to Mulya, ad hoc judge Rudi M. Rizki from the University of Padjadjaran in Bandung, had previously worked under the former defense minister and military commander-in-chief, Gen, Wiranto. Wiranto has been linked to the post-referendum crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999. In fact, many of the human rights cases tried by the panel of ad hoc judges will involve Indonesian Military officers. "Rudi Rizki could be biased when presiding over the East Timor human rights abuse case," suggests Mulya.

Several other ad hoc judges may also find it difficult to remain objective. One such judge, Binsar Gultom, is currently posted at the Bogor District Court. Formerly, Binsar was posted at the Dili District Court and Manatuto District Court in East Timor.

Binsar Gultom and other judges posted in East Timor undoubtedly have different political approaches than the Indonesian government. In view of this, Bonar Tigor Naispospos from the Solidarity for East Timorese People (Solidamor) has requested that Binsar be dropped from presiding over the East Timor case.

Another judge to have been criticized is appeal court ad hoc judge, I Gede Gusti Sukarata. According to Solidamor, Sukarata has a smeared record concerning human rights enforcement. Sukarata formerly ruled in favor of former Indonesian Democratic Party Chairman Soerjadi, facing a lawsuit from victims of the PDI riots in July 27, 1996. "Clearly, he is not beyond powerful intervention," says Bonar.

However, chairman of the selection team for ad hoc Human Rights judges from the Supreme Court, Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, rejects the above criticisms as premature. According to Mangkoedilaga, such criticism deems the panel of ad hoc judges incompetent, even before they commence their duties.

For Benjamin, the most important factor in bringing crimes against human rights to trial is the district attorney's charges. If the district attorney's indictment is complete and penetrating, the judge will surely find it difficult to conspire with the defendant. The Court of Human Rights will be open to the public, so judicial decisions are open to public scrutiny.

The above issues are technical. What about the ability and courage of ad hoc judges to take action on crimes against humanity? The existing legislation on human rights in Indonesia is arguably sufficient. Therefore, Indonesia's commitment to upholding human rights will depend on the quality of law enforcers-both judges and state prosecutors-as well as the commitment of the government in taking action against violations of human rights.

In the meantime, several of the ad hoc judges criticized have kept a low profile. "Just wait. We will give you the best possible results," said Binsar. Rizki was more outspoken in rejecting accusations that he actively helped Wiranto. "My position at that time was only as a passive assistant to Professor Muladi," said Rizki. An active contributor to the Habibie Center, Rizki has promised to prove that he can adjudicate independently.

Wens Manggut, Hani Pudjiarti, Dwi Arjanto


Tempo Magazine January 22-28, 2002

Special Report

Half-Hearted Fight Against Human Rights Abuse

Although East Timor is already independent from Indonesia, it is still haunted by the crimes against humanity that took place post-referendum. The tragedy will be the first human rights case to be tried by a panel of recently appointed ad hoc Human Rights judges at the Central Jakarta District Court.

The tragedy took place shortly after Indonesian president B.J. Habibie granted East Timor independence following a majority vote from the East Timor public to reject Jakarta's offer of special autonomy. On July 16, 1999 residents of East Timor registered to participate in a referendum to determine the fate of East Timor-namely whether to claim independence or remain a part of the Indonesian republic. The referendum was held on August 30, 1999. The results of the referendum were announced on September 4, 1999, concluding in victory for pro-independence supporters.

The result angered pro-integration supporters, in particular the pro-integration militia. Sounds of gunfire and screams of crying overtook East Timor and an ocean of fire swept through Dili. Hundreds of thousands of pro-integration supporters fled to the East Lesser Sundas and to the hills around Dili.

Indonesia has found it difficult to deny responsibility over the tragedy. At the very least, it was Indonesia's responsibility to maintain security in Loro Sa'e, pursuant to an agreement made between Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas, Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Gama, and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, on May 5, 1999. It is commonly believed that pro-integration militia backed by the Indonesian military are responsible for the riots.

International pressure has since moved the United Nations to bring several Indonesian military officers to the International Court. One United States court has ordered Jhony Lumintang to pay US$66 million in damages. As Deputy Chief of Staff for field operations in East Timor, Lumintang was found guilty of neglecting his duties.

In a recent breakthrough, the Indonesian Attorney General's Office has named 19 suspects allegedly guilty of committing crimes against humanity in East Timor. Most of them are military officers, policemen and field civilians. The list includes former Udayana Indonesian Military (TNI) Territorial Military Commander Major General Adam Damiri, former Governor of East Timor Abilio Soares, former East Timor Police Chief Brigadier General Timbul Silaen and former Tribuana Task Force Commander Yayat Sudrajat. However, their higher-ranking superiors, including former Indonesian Military Commander-in-Chief Wiranto, have escaped indictment.

A similar scenario has taken place with regard to crimes against humanity committed in Tanjungpriok, North Jakarta, in September 1984. This case concerns the Assa'dah Musholla (Muslim prayer room) in the District of South Koja. On September 8, 1984 the South Koja village law enforcement officer Hermanu, erased writing from a number of pamphlets on the wall of the Musholla using newspaper dipped in sewage. The pamphlets allegedly contained commonplace writings, such as suggestions that women wear religious veils.

Local residents saw Hermanu whitewash the pamphlets. Rumors then spread that Hermanu entered the musholla in boots. Hearing these rumors, members of the local religious community were angered. On Monday morning, September 10, 1984, the head of the musholla administration met with Hermanu. The ensuing interview incited rage among the viewing public and Hermanu's motorbike was dragged onto the street and burned. Law enforcers apprehended three local residents in connection with this incident-Ahmad Sahi, Sarifudin Rambe and Sofyan.

On Wednesday September 12, local residents set up a tent on Jalan Sindang Raya in Tanjungpriok. Several people including Amir Biki, a prominent Tanjungpriok public figure, made speeches. Amir criticized the police raid and called upon law enforcers to release the apprehended residents.

Concluding the speeches, a mass of residents began to make their way towards the North Jakarta Military Command to demand the release of their friends. However, security personnel blocked their way. Rumors spread that the order came directly from Jaya Military Commander, Try Sutrisno, and the commander in charge of Restoring Security and Public Order (Kopkamtib), Benny Moerdani. Security personnel fired shots, and a mass riot erupted. Several people were killed, including Amir Biki.

According to A.M. Fatwa, a member of the DPR (Indonesian House of Representatives) who was once imprisoned in connection with the Tanjungpriok case, former president Suharto is primarily responsible for the Tanjungpriok incident. Benny Moerdani, Try Sutrisno and former North Jakarta Military Commander A.R. Butar Butar also share responsibility for the incident.

Ironically both Suharto and Benny Moerdani were declared too ill to stand trial. Try Sutrisno escaped culpability altogether. To date, the Attorney General's Office has failed to recommence its investigations into crimes against humanity committed at Tanjungpriok.


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