Subject: E. Timor's patience wears thin over rights tribunal

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Also: Ad hoc trial delay could harm Indonesia's image

The Jakarta Post Friday, January 11, 2002

E. Timor's patience wears thin over rights tribunal

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The East Timor transitional government is considering turning to an international tribunal due to the repeated delays in the trial of officers allegedly involved in the 1999 human rights abuses in the former territory.

Philipe Rodriguez of the East Timor Public Administration's Department of Foreign Affairs said in Jakarta on Thursday that the East Timor people's wish to see the perpetrators taken to the court of justice has not materialized.

Rodriguez said that East Timor has observed every development in the Indonesian government's plan to bring the perpetrators to the ad hoc tribunal.

"We trust the Indonesian government to handle the case and see it as its domestic affair, believing that the trial would be fair.

"But we don't see that Indonesia has truly the will to do it. If this situation persists, we want an international tribunal to take over the trial," Rodriguez said in a seminar.

The government has established an ad hoc tribunal but the trial schedules have been repeatedly delayed because President Megawati Soekarnoputri has not yet approved the names of the judges which are already in her hand.

The names of the judges were proposed by the Supreme Court and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). In the latest promise, the trial would start on Jan. 15.

The seminar also featured Albert Hasibuan, former chairman of Komnas HAM team assigned to investigate the human rights violations following the 1999 referendum that led to East Timor's independence.

Lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution, who represents the Indonesian army generals allegedly involved in the rights abuses also spoke.

Rodriguez declined to say if East Timor had set any deadline before it turns to the UN to set up an international tribunal.

Albert said the commission concluded that more than 100 people from the military, police and civilians in fact deserved to be named as suspects.

Among the big names that the commission believes deserve to be declared suspects are (ret) Gen. Wiranto, former Udayana Military commander Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, and former Wiradharma Military Command chief Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman and Brig. Gen. A. Noer Muir, he said.

The commission cited the principle of chain of command when implicating Wiranto.

The Attorney General's Office, however, cut the list of suspects to 23, arguing that "Wiranto was not directly involved in the riots", Albert said.

The credibility of the investigation by the Attorney General's Office was questioned after Wiranto was removed from the list of suspects. He was supposed to be the most important decision maker in the operation that led to the violation of human rights.

Albert Hasibuan said he believed that the delay was due to a political compromise between Megawati and "certain groups" in the military.

The Jakarta Post

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Ad hoc trial delay could harm Indonesia's image

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja , The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Another delay by President Megawati Soekarnoputri on the appointment of judges for an ad hoc human rights trial could tarnish Indonesia's image in the international arena, a political analyst said on Wednesday.

Kusnanto Anggoro of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that the continuing delay would also provoke demands for an international tribunal.

"The trial is part of Indonesia's international obligation; if the domestic legal process looked too weak then it could remind people of the international tribunal. That would really damage the country's image," Kusnanto told The Jakarta Post.

He made the remarks in response to the failure on the part of President Megawati Soekarnoputri to sign a presidential decree on Wednesday for the appointment of judges for the tribunal, which was scheduled for next Tuesday.

Megawati declined to sign the presidential decree, possibly because she still objected to the inclusion of certain names in the list of prospective judges.

Kusnanto gave a reminder that Indonesia still suffered from a military embargo imposed by the United States and that it would continue should the government fail to establish proper legal procedures to deal with human rights violators.

The government renewed in August last year a presidential decree on the establishment of ad hoc tribunals to try those suspected of gross human rights abuses in the 1984 Tanjung Priok and 1999 East Timor bloodshed.

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 in September 1984 and in East Timor in April and September 1999.

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

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

On Wednesday Megawati summoned Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra to discuss the list of prospective judges.

Speaking to reporters after meeting the President, Yusril said that Megawati had asked him about his position on the appointment of ad hoc judges.

"I explained that the President had to authorize only the appointment of the judges, while their selection was the task of the Supreme Court," Yusril said.

He added that the President would sign the decree as soon as possible, as his meeting on Wednesday was the last with the President on the issue of the ad hoc trial judges.

In a related development, the Indonesian Association of Judges (IKHI) also urged the President to sign the presidential decree.

"We urge the President to sign the presidential decree as the tribunal should start soon," association chairman Toton Suprapto said after meeting the President on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court submitted 12 names, comprising six for the initial trial and six others for the appeal trial, which had gone through a selection process for the tribunal, originally scheduled for early December.

Megawati never explained her reluctance to sign the decree, but it was reported by, that one of the 12 judges was I Gusti Ketut Sukarate, who had rejected an appeal demand relating to the attack on Megawati's party headquarters on July 27, 1996.

Back to January 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