Subject: RI told to settle human rights issues bilaterally, regionally

The Jakarta Post Saturday, March 4, 2006

RI told to settle rights issues bilaterally, regionally

Rita A. Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Tanjung Benoa

Indonesia should use bilateral or regional mechanisms to properly settle outstanding human rights issues or continue to face international criticism, a former United Nations chief says.

Makarim Wibisono, a former chairman of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, said it was high time Indonesia used bilateral, regional or international bodies to hear and resolve outstanding human rights accusations.

"Reports presented by parties about alleged human rights cases in Indonesia often cause a public uproar here ... because people do not understand the reporting mechanism," he said Friday at a multilateral meeting on human rights between Indonesia, China Canada and Norway in Tanjung Benoa, Bali.

The recent UN-sanctioned Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation report about alleged human rights abuses by the Indonesian Military in the former province of East Timor, was a case in point, he said.

The report sparked controversy here after it was delivered to the United Nations by Timor Leste President Xanana Gusmao.

"The United Nations considered the report one of its many sources (of evidence). But if any alleged violation has already been settled within bilateral or regional frameworks, the United Nations would no longer address such an issue," said Makarim, who ended his UNCHR term in January.

Alleged human rights violations in East Timor are currently being discussed and investigated by the joint Indonesian-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), chaired by Benjamin Mangkoedilaga.

"I warned the CTF to pay very serious attention (to the charges of abuse) and to properly seek settlements, otherwise the cases will end up being handled by an international body. They shouldn't play around with this contentious issue, Indonesia is at stake," Makarim said.

He said the UNCHR would be replaced at the end of 2006 by a more powerful body. "(The Commission) will be replaced by a special council which has more authority and capacity to address alleged human rights abuses worldwide," he said.

Indonesia, Canada, China and Norway ended the five-day conference on human rights Friday.

At Wednesday's session, Indonesian and Canadian delegations discussed areas of possible cooperation.

Canadian delegation head Richard Small said the two groups had agreed to increase the capacity of the Indonesian National Police and prosecutors by educating them about human rights issues and community policing, and by training them how to combat terrorism and transnational crime.

Indonesia was also expected to sign a cooperation agreement on human rights issues with China and Norway late Friday.

----------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service

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