Subject: Indonesia rejects Timor ex-governor's "retrospective" rights law review call

Monday, March 7, 2005

Indonesia rejects Timor ex-governor's "retrospective" rights law review call

March 7, 2005 9:24am

Text of unattributed article headlined "Constitutional Court rejects Abilio Soares' proposal" by Indonesian newspaper Republika web site on 4 March

Jakarta: The Constitutional Court's (MK) Panel of Judges have decided to reject a judicial review on the human rights court legislation proposed by the former governor of East Timor, Abilio Jose Osorio Soares. The rejection was read out by the chairman of the Panel of Judges, Jimly Asshiddiqie, on Thursday (3 March) at the Constitutional Court House.

Abilio, who was represented by 19 defence lawyers, proposed a judicial review of law No 26/2000 governing the human rights court in September 2004 after the Ad-Hoc Human Rights Court found Abilio guilty of bloody incidents that took place in East Timor in 1999.

The proposal was based on the retroactive [preceding word received in English] legal basis in Article 43 clause 1 used to sentence Abilio. The Article, according to Abilio, contradicts Article 28 I clause (1) of the 1945 Constitution.

Article 28 I clause (1) clearly states that the right not to be charged on a retroactive legal basis is a human right which can not be downgraded in any situation.

The Panel of Judges' rejection of the judicial review was not a unanimous decision. Three panel members expressed dissenting opinion [last two words in English] over the proposal. They were Achmad Rostand, Laica Marzuki and Prof Abdul Mukti Fadjar. "Application of the retroactive legal principle might satisfy short-term interests. But could harm long-term interests because it can be used by the ruling authorities as a retaliation tool against political opponents," Achmad Rostand said.

The other six constitutional judges rejected Abilio's proposal based on several considerations. One of the MK's considerations was that the retroactive basis could appropriately be applied to serious human rights violation cases, genocide and crimes against humanity.

In response to the decision, the head of Abilio's defence team, O.C. Kaligis said that they were not disappointed. "We just do not agree with the decision. There are still three judges that support our proposal," he said.

The director-general for Human Rights in the Department of Justice and Human Rights, Hafid Abbas, expressed his satisfaction over the decision. "All past crimes must be settled through an ad-hoc legal mechanism," he concluded.

Source: Republika, Jakarta, in Indonesian 4 Mar 05

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