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Indonesia blasted on Rome Statute delay

Publication Date : 18-07-2012


Indonesian human rights groups have called on the government to immediately ratify the 1998 Rome Statute as part of its commitment to stopping impunity and protecting human rights in the country.

The ratification of the document will allow the International Criminal Court (ICC) to interfere with the country's judicial system by allowing the international court to investigate and prosecute gross violations of human rights, which include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

"By adopting the Rome Statute to the national law, Indonesia will have a stronger legal instrument as a basis to uphold justice and human rights in the country. It will also reflect the country's commitment to maintaining peace both within the country and internationally, which is mandated by the 1945 Constitution," National Human Rights Commission chairman Ifdhal Kasim said yesterday.

Kasim said that the ratification would strengthen the national law (on human rights) instead of serving as a substitute.

Government officials have raised concerns that the adoption of the document would mean that the country's legal system would submit to the international legal system.

The Indonesian Military has been vocal against the ratification of the Rome Statute as it would pave the way for the prosecution of some of its generals who were allegedly involved in past human rights abuses.

Activists however said that the document would not be applied retroactively.

"We must understand that once the government ratifies the statute, the ICC only has the ability to investigate and adjudicate cases of serious crimes committed after its ratification and only if the country proves that it is unable or unwilling to prosecute those crimes within its own legal system," Bhatara Ibnu Reza, an expert member of Civil Society Groups for the ICC told The Jakarta Post.

Reza called on the government to ratify the Rome Statute no later than 2013, as otherwise political campaigning ahead of the 2014 general election would drown out calls for the statute's ratification.

"I don’t know why we must wait so long to ratify the statute because there is no reason for this feet-dragging. In fact, official in the Law and Human Rights Ministry and Foreign Ministry, or even the President have expressed their commitment to promoting and protecting human rights in the country," he said.

Reza said that ratifying the statute would also help the country protect members of the military.

"We must also remember that Indonesia is one of the countries that contribute the largest number of the United Nations' [UN] peacekeeping forces. We will be unable to demand legal justice for them, for example, if something happens when they are on duty overseas because our law has yet to ratify the statute on the International Criminal Court".

As of July this year, 121 country members of the UN were party to the Rome Statute. However, only a few have signed and ratified the statute, including 17 in Asia, 26 in Latin America, 33 in Africa and 44 in Europe.


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