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Indonesia's president-elect moves to set up human rights court

Publication Date : 26-08-2014


Indonesia's President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is pushing for legal instruments that will allow the establishment of an ad hoc human rights court to hear cases of past human rights violations.

Andi Widjajanto, a deputy of the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla transition team in charge of the issue, said on Monday that regulations being drafted by Jokowi’s transition team included a presidential decree to hear cases of human rights violations that took place during the 1998 May riots and a government regulation in-lieu-of law (Perppu) to address the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR) to bring about solutions to a number of past human rights abuses.

“We have been reaching out to human rights campaigners for the details,” Andi told the press at the transition team headquarters in Central Jakarta on Monday.

“Jokowi is committed to resolving human rights violation cases.”

Jokowi repeatedly pledged to resolve the 1998 cases, as well as other past rights abuses, during his presidential campaign, a move that apparently earned him support from human rights activists.

Losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who has been accused of being responsible for the forced disappearances of several activists during the riots in Jakarta in 1998, on the other hand, tried to leave the matter off the agenda during his campaign.

Aside from Prabowo, a report published by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in 2003 also accused then Army commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto, chairman of the Hanura Party, one of the five political parties that officially endorsed the Jokowi-Kalla ticket in the July 9 election, of being responsible.

Trust toward Jokowi’s commitment to upholding human rights, however, has recently been shaken by the appointment of former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief AM Hendropriyono, who is alleged to have been involved in the murder of prominent human rights campaigner Munir Said Thalib in 2004, as an adviser to the Jokowi-Kalla transition team.

Hendropriyono had been summoned by Komnas HAM over his involvement in the Talangsari tragedy in Lampung in 1989, during which Garuda Hitam soldiers raided homes in the village, following allegations that residents were attempting to set up an Islamic state.

The soldiers burned houses and detained villagers and residents of neighboring areas. According to the commission, hundreds of civilians were killed, wounded or went missing during the attack.

Hendropriyono was commander of Garuda Hitam at the time.

Hendropriyono, however, failed to meet the summons in the Talangsari probe and pleaded not guilty in the case. He also denied any involvement in Munir’s death.

Activists have also started to question Jokowi-Kalla’s commitment to human rights as the transition team has excluded human rights issues from the 13 working groups established to detail programs to be implemented by Jokowi and Kalla during their five-year term.

Article 43 of the 2000 Law on human rights stipulates that an ad hoc human rights court can be set up by a recommendation from the House of Representatives and a decree by the president.

Komnas HAM welcomed Jokowi’s plan to issue the decree as the 1998 investigation has been stalled at the Attorney General’s Office.

“We must definitely solve all cases of human rights violations otherwise the country won’t move forward,” said Komnas HAM commissioner Roichatul Aswidah, who chairs a team focusing on the matter.

Besides the 1998 May riots, the list of gross human rights violations also names the massacres of 1965-1966; the 1989 Talangsari massacre; a number of mysterious shootings in the 1980s; the Trisakti University shootings; the Semanggi I and Semanggi II shootings and the murder of Munir.


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