Subject: Rights groups to ask for UN intervention in E. Timor trial

The Jakarta Post February 15, 2003

Rights groups to ask for UN intervention in E. Timor trial

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will use the occasion of the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva next month to press for international intervention in the ongoing East Timor human rights trials.

The coalition said on Friday the demand was aimed at preventing the human rights trials on the East Timor massacre from setting the norm for rights tribunals in the country.

"We will ask the upcoming UNCHR assembly to urge the international society through the UN Secretary-General to request the Security Council to evaluate and assess the rights tribunal on East Timor," said Ikravany Hilman, spokesperson for the coalition.

The coalition expressed its disappointment with the way the ad hoc trial proceeded. Due to the lack of key witnesses, the human rights court has acquitted 11 defendants and in four cases has handed down minimum or light sentences, which have never been executed pending appeals.

The annual meeting will take place from March 17 to April 25.

"Indonesia has practiced impunity in the ad hoc rights tribunal. The trial is only a scam to protect those individuals who have committed gross human rights violations in East Timor, because the tribunal is neither independent nor impartial and has failed to adopt the international standard," he said.

The coalition, therefore, would urge the international community to declare rights violators in the East Timor cases as hostis humani genesis, or "the enemy of mankind", he said.

"As the enemy of mankind, violators can be arrested by government authorities outside Indonesia, who would consider them to be a common enemy," he said.

Rights activists have been campaigning for more human rights tribunals for the Tanjung Priok massacre of Muslim protesters by the military in 1984, the Trisakti and Semanggi shootings of students by police and military during the riots of 1998, and the Abepura killings of activists by the military in then-Irian Jaya, in 1999.

"But because of the case of East Timor, there has been growing concerns that other rights trials will also be a farce," Ikra said.

However, the coalition shelved the idea to set up an international criminal tribunal, as in the cases of the former leaders of Yugoslavia and Rwanda, because it would be expensive and the trials would take a long time, he said.

"We will accept the current rights tribunal with closer monitoring from both local and international parties," he said.

The coalition also called upon the Indonesian government to invite special rapporteurs on torture, who would monitor the protection of human rights in the country.

The coalition consists of dozens of NGOs on human rights, such as the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), the Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), and the Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial).

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