Subject: Soeharto Rights Cases Reopened [+Journalists Protest Police Violence]

also: 2 JP reports: Rights efforts showing some results; and Journalists protest police violence

The Jakarta Post

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Rights Body Reopens Soeharto Cases

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The National Commission on Human Rights said it would soon decide if human rights abuses that occurred under former president Soeharto's reign can be classified as "gross violations of human rights".

A study and research team from the commission has examined six cases that took place under Soeharto's regime believed to be gross violations of human rights.

The six cases examined killings related to the socio-political upheaval during the mid 1960s, in which an undetermined number of people, allegedly members of the Indonesian Communist Party or its sympathizers, died or disappeared.

The cases also involved the prolonged imprisonment of political detainees on Buru Island, the series of mysterious shootings of criminals known as "Petrus" in the 1980s, the armed conflicts in Aceh and Papua, the Paraku killings in East Kalimantan and the July 27, 1996 incident.

"We hope that we have completed all of the reports by the end of December so we can discuss the cases in more detail in our plenary meeting," Yoseph Adi Prasetyo, commissioner for education and public information affairs said at a press conference Friday.

Ahmad Baso, head of the study and research team for the Soeharto cases, said if the cases were determined as "gross violations" in the meeting, an ad-hoc team would be set up to further probe the violations.

The team would be made up of special investigators to follow-up the earlier examination process and to bring a formal dossier on the cases to the Attorney General's Office.

"Most probably, the pro-justice investigation approach will be applied to the Soeharto cases," Baso said.

Ifdal Kasim, chairman of the human rights commission told The Jakarta Post by phone: "A Case will be said to be a gross violation case when it involves a crime against humanity or genocide as stipulated under Law No. 26/2000 on the Human Rights Court".

The human rights commission said it had received 273 reports filed by citizens during its first 100 days in operation.

Yoseph said the cases involved mostly land disputes and labor cases.

Indonesia's poor human rights record has seen the United Nations require the rights commission to submit a report to the world body.

Hesti Armiwulan, deputy chairman on external affairs with the commission said a five page report was required by the UN.

"The content of the report is about the existence of the human rights commission, laws which protect human rights and the implementation of the ratification of two covenants," he said.

The report would be discussed on Dec. 10, which coincides with the International Human Rights day, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. (rff)


The Jakarta Post Saturday, December 8, 2007

Rights efforts showing some results

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesian human rights activists said Friday that despite many shortcomings, the efforts to improve human rights awareness in Indonesia have started to show results.

Haris Azhar of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said there had been concrete progress in Indonesia in 2007 that had earned it international recognition.

"Some of the country's notable achievements in 2007 are the visit of three high-ranking officials of the United Nations overseeing human rights issues, and Indonesia's presidency of the UN Human Rights Council," said Haris.

The three UN officials invited by Indonesia were Louise Arbour, High Commissioner on Human Rights; Hina Jilani, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders; and Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Haris was speaking at a press conference to commemorate World Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 and also the nearing 60th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Declaration in 2008.

Ali Akbar Tanjung, of the Human Rights Working Group, said the government should work harder to maintain the positive image Indonesia has gained in the international community.

"There are at least five recommendations that have to be followed up by the government," he said.

"Three recommendations are from UN human rights envoys visiting Indonesia in 2007.

"The other two are from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women."

However, Asfinawati, of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, said from the point of view of the victims of rights violations there had been no significant improvement.

"The government is still unable to function as the country's main human rights enforcer. The Munir murder case, the Lapindo mudflow case and the Alas Tlogo shooting case are some examples of this."

Also during the conference, Asfinawati and two other speakers, Usman Hamid of Kontras and Uli Parulian Sihombing of the Indonesian Legal Resource Center, cited state intervention that threatened the freedom of religion as an example of the government's ambiguity and ambivalence in improving human rights conditions in Indonesia.

Usman said the government's prohibition of religious sects, as in the case of Al-Qiyadah Al-Islamiyah, was procedurally inappropriate.

"This should have first gone to court, instead of only being the decision of the Attorney General's Office," he said.

"The government should reorganize its system if it wants to be serious in integrating the country's laws with the values stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

Uli Parulian Sihombing said in the case of preserving freedom of religion, law enforcement was still very weak.

"We can see this from the increasing incidence of vandalism related to religion or faith issues," he said. (uwi)


The Jakarta Post

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Journalists protest police violence

JAKARTA: Dozens of journalists gathered in front of the National Police Headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday, protesting violence against journalists.

"We want the National Police chief to punish Sr. Comr. Julius Srijono, who forcibly seized the camera of a Jawa Pos reporter," Suparni, from the group Jakarta Journalist Axis, said as quoted by news portal.

The reporter, Farouk Arnaz, was covering the police reconstruction of a crime in Depok, West Java, on Monday, when Srijono, head of a narcotics unit at the National Police, allegedly confiscated his digital camera and deleted the pictures he had taken.

The group of reporters protesting on Friday also demanded punishment for Depok Police chief Sr. Comr. Imam Pramukarno for allegedly intimidating three journalists in a separate incident.

The incident occurred when the journalists were covering a church service at a shopping mall last Friday, when a mob arrived and forced the service to halt, claiming it was unauthorized. (JP/lva)

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