Subject: How will Milosevic's trial affect Indonesia?

Also: AGE: A duty to the East Timorese

The Jakarta Post July 5, 2001

How will Milosevic's trial affect RI?

The United Nations war crimes tribunal against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has begun. How will this affect many unsettled cases of human rights violations in Indonesia? Renowned lawyer and executive director of the Jakarta-based Center for Human Rights Studies (Yapusham) Todung Mulya Lubis shares his views.

Question: How much hope do you have regarding the settlement of cases regarding Indonesia's human rights violations with the beginning of the Milosevic trial?

Answer: This should serve as a lesson to Indonesians that (perpetrators of) crimes against humanity and war crimes can be subject to an international tribunal.

That we have not ratified the Rome Statute (on the international criminal court) must not lead us to consider that we are immune.

Rapid development in international law could cause perpetrators of human rights violations to be brought to an international trial even though the jurisdiction of the international court has not been recognized.

Secondly, this (the Milosevic trial) will of course aid all parties concerned with human rights for a speedier process in the set up of a human rights court and an ad hoc human rights court (for crimes that occurred before the passing of the Human Rights Court Act on Nov. 23 2000).

Our neglect in failing so far to set up such a court will provide justification for international rights activists, including those from countries highly concerned about human rights violations such as in East Timor, to demand the establishment of an international tribunal if our own courts prove to be ineffective. ....

Instruments such as (delaying) international aid could also be used ...

Therefore, the Milosevic trial will have a positive impact in our preparation for a human rights court.

What should be prioritized among so many of our human rights violations cases?

Priorities should be the cases in Aceh, Papua, East Timor and the shooting of students of Trisakti and in the Semanggi area -- not that other cases are not important, but we must have priorities.

Is there a double standard in the prosecution of Milosevic, as some have suggested, given earlier calls that former president Soeharto should also be brought to an international tribunal?

This (allegation) would be inaccurate. There has not been a resolution from the United Nations Security Council against Soeharto saying that he is responsible for crimes against humanity and that he can be brought to an international tribunal.

If the atmosphere is more conducive now to speed up human rights violations trials won't there be resistance from the Indonesian Military or its members?

Not as long as the trial is fair, objective and free from being "engineered."

A human rights trial in the country would be far better than an international court -- which would further tarnish our image. However, who could guarantee that there would be no intervention?

Meanwhile, the retroactive clause in the Human Rights Court Act (passed last November) will indeed pose a problem (such as) the possibility of many cases being considered closed ...

With the passing of the attorney general Baharuddin Lopa who was considered a man of integrity despite his critics, are you still optimistic of a more smooth process toward the settlement of cases of human rights violations?

Even with Lopa, the task of setting up a human rights court and an ad hoc court was never seen to be easy despite the (Human Rights Court) Act No. 26, 2000 ... because of the absence of infrastructure and the lack of personnel.

So, it would take a relatively long time to set up such courts unless we want to set up show trials.

Without Lopa, one factor that might have sped up this process is now gone; how long it will take depends on the new attorney general, who will have to adjust (to his surroundings).

Unfortunately, we now face this political situation ahead of the special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (scheduled for early August), the results of which we cannot predict.

Much attention will be focused (on this event) and this will make the process (toward settling human rights violations) even slower. (anr)

The Age

July 7, 2001

A duty to the East Timorese

The UN has its own investigation team in East Timor. Some prosecutions have started against minor players.

But the power to investigate stops abruptly at the border with West Timor. Moreover, the UN does not have full access to signals intelligence that may point the finger at who exactly in Jakarta was pulling the strings.

Australia has considerable evidence in its possession. When, if ever, will it be handed over?

The trial of Mr Milosevic may heighten the pressure. If Yugoslavia's former head of state can be charged, it creates something of a blueprint, morally if not procedurally, for more extensive investigations into the East Timor violence, and more robust questioning of Indonesia's security apparatus, including former military chief General Wiranto.

In this context, Clause 60 of the indictment against Mr Milosevic carries powerful resonances: "A superior is responsible for the acts of his subordinate(s) if he knew or had reason to know that his subordinate(s) was/were about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof."

The Milosevic indictment carries documented evidence of more than 750 Kosovars killed in the rampage between January 15 and May 26, 1999.

It details meticulously the hellfire inflicted on innocent civilians: hundreds of thousands forced from their homes, villages pillaged, homes, farms and businesses burnt, and a litany of rapes, beatings and murder. All hauntingly akin to the horror stories that would emerge only months later from Manatutu, Los Palos, and Dili itself.

The Milosevic trial may serve as a road map for future war crimes proceedings. The Indonesian Government should ready itself for the journey.

So, too, Australia. This time, it cannot stand squeamishly on the sidelines. The world will be watching.

July Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from