Subject: For Human Rights Victims, Indonesia's Draft Law Hampers Justice

The Jakarta Post Saturday, May 10, 2008

Draft law hampers quest for justice

The government's draft regulation on compensation, restitution and assistance will obstruct victims of human rights violations in their quest to gain compensation, observers have said.

"This regulation is meant to implement Law No. 13/2006 on victims and witness protection but it does not appear to give adequate protection," Surastini Fitriasih of the School of Law at the University of Indonesia said Thursday.

"Instead, it complicates the procedures at the expense of victims."

Worse, there is no system in place to enforce payment if the order is ignored, she said.

Under the draft regulation, victims must be able to identify clearly at least one of their assailants in order to claim damages. The suspects must then be convicted before any compensation can be made.

"But in most cases of human rights violations, the perpetrators are unknown or cannot be prosecuted. Human rights violations are usually committed on a large scale, involving a huge number of people -- both victims and perpetrators.

"In some cases, they are perpetrated by the state," Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy deputy director Abdul Harris Semendawai said.

The regulation states perpetrators are responsible for all compensation, restitution and assistance. Only when they are proved to be unable to fulfill their obligations will the state step in.

"This is not in line with international law and practice," said Emerson Yhunto of Indonesia Corruption Watch.

"The states are responsible for the victims even if the perpetrators are unknown or the crimes are yet to be addressed in court."

Abdul also questioned the wide role of the Institute for Victims and Witness Protection (LPSK), a new body proposed in the draft, which he said would overlap the work of the National Commission for Human Rights.-- JP/Mariani Dewi


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