Subject: JP: Ad hoc tribunal start in October?

Also: Rights activists applaud new decree on ad hoc tribunal

The Jakarta Post August 9, 2001

Ad hoc tribunal start in October?

JAKARTA (JP): The chief of the justices team preparing the establishment of an ad hoc human rights tribunal, Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, expects that they could start the court hearings in October this year.

Correcting his previous announcement that the trials would start in September, Benjamin said on Wednesday they would only open the trials in October "because the team had yet to finish recruitment of noncareer judges."

The government has revised the decree on ad hoc tribunals to try human rights violations in East Timor in April and September of 1999 and the rights abuses that occurred during the Tanjung Priok shootings in September 1984.

"If you ask when we can start to try the cases, I would say that we could start them tomorrow. But trying such cases needs further requirements if we really want to properly handle the cases," Benjamin told The Jakarta Post at his office.

He said such requirements included the objective recruitment of noncareer judges who would be selected from among experts and professionals dealing with legal matters.

He said further that between 60 and 80 noncareer and career judges were needed to run the ad hoc tribunals. "But so far, the team has succeeded only in recruiting 40 career judges and no noncareer judges," he said, adding that they found it hard to recruit noncareer judges.

Ideally, he said, each human rights violation case would be tried by five judges comprising two career-judges and three noncareer judges.

So far, the Attorney General's Office has prepared 12 dossiers on 18 suspects involved in four incidents of alleged rights abuses that occurred before and after the East Timor self-determination ballot on Aug. 30, 1999. The office is still working on the investigation of the Tanjung Priok incident. (tso)

Jakarta Post August 6, 2001

Rights activists applaud new decree on ad hoc tribunal

JAKARTA (JP): Human rights activists applauded on Sunday the renewed presidential decree on the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects of gross human rights abuses in the 1984 Tanjung Priok and 1999 East Timor bloodshed.

"The issuance of the new decree last Friday shows a good sign of the new administration on human rights," Asmara Nababan, the secretary general of the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM), told The Jakarta Post on Sunday by phone.

The new presidential Decree No. 96/2001, clearly specifies each of the crimes against humanity to be brought to court, namely human rights violations in the Tanjung Priok shooting spree in September 1984 and in East Timor in April and September 1999.

The new decree, signed by President Megawati Soekarnoputri, overrules former presidential decree no. 53/2001, signed by then president Abdurrahman Wahid in April.

The previous decree drew protests from rights activists as it only gave authority to the tribunal to try and hand down verdicts on rights violations that took place in East Timor after the self-determination ballot on August 30, 1999.

Meanwhile, many rights violations in East Timor were recorded before the ballot, especially in April, 1999, including the April 17 attack on proindependence leader Manuel Carrascalao's house in Dili, in which at least 12 people died and the April massacre of refugees at a church in Liquica.

Asmara said then president Abdurrahman responded positively to the outcry by rights activists and promised to correct the decree, but he was ousted from the presidency before he could sign the new decree.

Separately, Ifdhal said the new decree would help state prosecutors in deciding which cases to submit to the ad hoc tribunal and which cases to pursue further in terms of investigation and prosecution.

Following results of an inquiry by Komnas HAM, the Attorney General's Office had prepared 12 dossiers on 18 suspects from four incidents of suspected human rights abuses that occurred before and after the Aug. 30 ballot.

Two postballot incidents investigated by the team were the Sept. 6 attack on the Dili home of Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and the September massacre of refugees in a church in Suai, which left at least 26 dead.

The new decree, nevertheless, confirms the previous decree in terms of the tribunal sitting and budget. The tribunal will sit at the Central Jakarta District Court and its expenses will be covered by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

Supreme Court Justice Benyamin Mangkoedilaga, who leads a working group to select judges for the ad hoc tribunal and human rights court, told the Post on Sunday that they were now selecting names from non-career and career judges, especially those who had been trained on human rights tribunal.

They would be assigned to the ad hoc tribunal and human rights courts, which would also be established in Medan, Surabaya and Makassar.

He said that at least 12 judges would be assigned at each rights court in Medan, Surabaya and Makassar and more judges for the court in Jakarta. (bby)

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