Subject: Human Rights Just a Govt Slogan: Imparsial [+Experts: RI Democracy Out of Reach]

also: JP: Democracy, sound economy remain out of reach despite reform [experts said at a forum]

The Jakarta Post Saturday, January 5, 2008

Human rights to remain 'a slogan'

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Rights defense group Imparsial said Friday that human rights was little more than a government slogan last year and was likely to remain so.

This was especially the case, they said, with the 2009 presidential elections drawing nearer.

Imparsial Executive Director Rachland Nashidik told a press conference that the government had failed to defend human rights, with many cases of alleged violations remaining unsettled.

Nevertheless, he said, loud claims by the government of upholding justice continued to be heard.

"When President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took office in 2004, he said that the death of human rights activist Munir was a test for our (Indonesian) history.

"However, three years have passed and we have yet to see the real perpetrators face charges."

Munir Said Thalib, who outspokenly criticized the Indonesian Military (TNI) for its alleged involvement in human rights violations in the troubled provinces of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Papua, was found dead on board a Garuda Indonesia flight on Sept. 7, 2004. A postmortem examination proved he died of arsenic poisoning.

Three suspects -- former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Prijanto, former Garuda President Indra Setiawan and Rohainil Aini, secretary to Garuda's chief pilot -- have been brought to court.

However, families and activists say that even if those people were involved, they were not the principals behind the assassination.

Rachland said accountability in human rights cases depended heavily on political lobbying -- who was behind the violations and whom the settlements would benefit the most.

"In this case, court institutions, which are supposed to be the ultimate refuge of justice, are also involved in ensuring that political lobbying works on behalf of the powerful."

He cited a session of the Munir murder trials in which a taped telephone conversation between suspect Pollycarpus and Indra was played. Seeming to reassure Indra in the face of the allegations -- in the recording -- Pollycarpus referred to the chief of the Supreme Court, Bagir Manan, as "our man".

The tape recording also highlighted the involvement of top State Intelligence Agency (BIN) officials, but none have been brought to court so far.

Rachland said this year the record on enforcement of human rights would be no different than last year. "As long as human rights violations are still perceived as political bargaining chips, human rights enforcement will not be possible."

Bhatara Ibnu Reza, research coordinator for Imparsial, worried there would be even more lip service paid to human rights this year ahead of the 2009 presidential election -- without any action to follow.

"Political groups will run a lot of human rights campaigns to attract grassroots voters. But whether there will actually be any action or not depends on political interests."

As compared to human rights, he said that stability and security were just likely to interest voters from the middle to upper income brackets.

"Human rights enforcement is merely a show here. You already have the law -- the 1945 Constitution -- to uphold human rights. But our leaders lack determination to put that into practice," said Bhatara. (lln)

photos: Rights, Wrongs: Vice President Jusuf Kalla (center) chats with National Commission on Human Rights chairman Ifdhal Kasim (left(JP/R. Berto Wedhatama); and Torch of Rights: A group of athletes run in the Global Human Rights Torch Relay procession in Senayan, Central Jakarta, Friday. The torch was lit in Athens on August 9, 2007, as part of activities to welcome the Beijing 2008 Olympics and as an international campaign against human rights violations in China. The global torch relay is being jointly held by the Coalition for the Investigation of Torture Against Falun Gong and world human rights activists. (JP/J.Adiguna)


The Jakarta Post Saturday, January 5, 2008

Democracy, sound economy remain out of reach despite reform

Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Corrupt behavior in politics and complicated bureaucracy are believed to be the factors keeping benevolent democracy and a sound economy out of Indonesia's reach even after 10 years of reform, experts said in a discussion Friday.

Siti Zuhro from the Center of Political Studies at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences blamed ethical shortcomings of politicians for failure to achieve full democratization and bureaucratic reform.

"Even though the government has committed to the reform of bureaucracy at every level ... this has not yet materialized.

"Corruption, collusion and nepotism still happen everywhere," she said.

"This is a matter of politicians' mentality. They're practicing politics and neglecting morality."

Siti, however, acknowledged there had been many changes in the organization of the state since the reform era. Especially important, she said, was the amending of the 1945 Constitution -- on four occasions.

"There has been considerable change in our country's politics, including in our election mechanisms and development of a multi-party system."

She predicted political diversity -- new faces and more independent candidates -- because the public was dissatisfied with political parties' perceived failing to represent the aspirations of the people.

"Political parties in the parliament have failed to support the people.

"And in this decentralization era, when people have put their hopes in the Regional Representatives Council, they (people) are once again disappointed because the council has also failed to show its power."

Siti said political parties should focus more on educating their members in an effort to improve their performance and to better accommodate the people.

Economically, the country had yet to achieve independence, said Fadhil Hasan of the Institute for Development of Economy and Finance Indonesia (INDEF).

"Complicated bureaucracy and policies are not on the side of the business community, thus (foreign) investors are reluctant to come here.

"Indonesia doesn't have a suitable economic strategy, and its policies have not been able to protect national interests from being damaged by foreign ones," he said.

He cited a banking sector controlled 60 percent by foreigners.

Energy, finance and food, he said, were the three key sectors whose weakness held back economic progress.

Ismed Hasan Putro, head of the Professional Civil Society, expressed similar views, saying the business climate in the country was not competitive and that illegal levies had led to huge cost inefficiencies that dissuaded investors.

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