Building Commitment To Settle Past Human Rights Violations

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

The commitment of state institutions to support any efforts regarding settlement of past human rights violations is absolutely necessary. It was one of recommendation that arose during the Workshop of National Human Rights Commission (“Komnas HAM”) and Witness and Victim Protection Agency (“LPSK”) on December 11-12th 2014 in Jakarta.

National Workshop with the overall theme “Formulating Indonesia’s Pathways: Establishing Human Rights as Life of The Nation’s Foundation” was attended by state institution’s representatives, national leaders, NGOs and victims of human rights violations.

Past human rights violations issue finally succeed at becoming national issues during that workshop. The major result from this workshop shall be followed-up by Komnas HAM and LPSK to insist government’s commitment related to settlement of past human rights violations.

Previously, during International Human Rights Day in Yogyakarta on December 9th, President Joko Widodo asserted that comprehensive reconciliation and Ad Hoc Human Rights Court will become two pathways to resolve past human rights violations. In a statement on his speech, the President declared that he will give attention to prevent repeat of human rights violations through law reform and to make current law more firm, reliable, consistent and non-discriminatory.

During national workshop in Jakarta, Chairman of People’s Consultative Assembly (“MPR”) Zulkifli Hasan asserted MPR’s commitment to facilitate national dialogue with various parties, including People’s Representative Council (“DPR”) and Regional Representative Council (“DPD”). This MPR’s commitment becomes important step to enable support for settlement of past human rights violations, particularly when dealing with various political barriers in the recent days.

Settlement of past human rights violations is a part of reform agenda, but it has not yet been implemented thoroughly and meet international standard. Improvement of human rights protection in regulation level, had not guaranteed justice for victims of crime, equality before the law and protection against discrimination and stigmatization. Those victims still seek for settlement of past human rights violations.

The settlement of past human rights violations could be done in various ways, but it has to correspond to international standard. International Human Rights’ standard presupposes that this settlement should be done effectively and meet at least one out of four selection elements: (i) right to truth, (ii) justice, (iii) reparation and (iv) unrepeated crime. This settlement can be done through judicial and non-judicial mechanisms, which lead to two mechanisms namely Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Indonesia already have regulatory foundation and national policy to establish Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and TRC.

Apart from those mechanisms, various initiatives have been done by government and society. But these initiatives were still limited, and not yet bolstering efforts to resolve comprehensively, equitably and with dignity. There was no adequate supports from central government for these initiatives.

Establishment of Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and TRC have various barriers in politic, law, budget and social aspects. Those various barriers can be resolved by arranging clear, objective and impartial orientation/purpose towards settlement of past human rights violations, with proper framework for legal foundations and commitment from all parties.

In local level there is also a momentum to support the settlement. Various initiatives to resolve this issue in local level answered stagnation of settlement in national level. That “bottom-up” process showed that urgency to resolve past human rights violations is not only a mere national discourse, but also a support from local government and society. This process is an important momentum to start digging or formulating pathways concept in order to resolve past human rights violations.

Civil society have done initiatives too, including documenting testimonies from thousand numbers of victim who went through human rights violations and constructed past human rights violations report which described human rights violation dimension in Indonesia. Those society’s initiatives have given contribution for the state to do several settlement steps. Efforts to reveal the truth have already been done by building inscription, museum, monument and so forth. Reconciliation process in society has been done in various regions.

However, various good intention both in local or national levels were still limited. Many constraints made the comprehensive, equitable and dignified settlement seems impossible. The previous central government had lack of support toward those intentions.

In order to overcome those barriers and to accelerate and follow-up government’s commitment, the President needs to establish an Ad Hoc special committee (Ad Hoc Committee) which has mandate to facilitate various process of settling past human rights violations, and reveal truth and give recommendation for the government about steps to-do. Ad Hoc committee would give report and recommendation for the President, also prepare final report to be followed-up by the Government.

This commitment to resolve past human rights violations in national level by involving all stakeholders, local government and civil society is an important momentum and decision to build consensus. If this is not implemented, there would be a new barrier in the future. In other side, the failure to resolve past human rights violations in national level would open an opportunity for a settlement in the international level.

Author: Zainal Abidin
Editor: Ari Yurino