Waiting For President Jokowi To Prove Commitment To Resolve Past Human Rights Violations

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Each year, the government have always held a commemoration for International Human Rights Day, which was attended by a number of Ministers and other state institutions, such as National Human Rights Commission (“Komnas HAM”) and Witness and Victim Protection Agency (“LPSK”). In 2014, President Joko Widodo commemorated International Human Rights Day in Senisono Building, Yogyakarta on December 9th. There is always something special on the commemoration, which celebrated every December 10th, because aside from state officials, a number of victims of human rights violations also attend to this event.

President Joko Widodo speech and statement is clearly the most-awaited by the victim of human rights violations, particularly regarding his commitment to resolve various past human rights violations. In a statement on his speech, the President said that the Government would remain committed to work hard in equitably resolving past human rights violations cases and prevent the recurrence of human rights violations in the future.

ELSAM just released the first bit of excerpts of President’s speech:

“As a President, I have to hold firmly and walk in the realm of constitution. In our constitution it is clear that recognition, respect and protection toward human rights have been used as a guideline for the state and nation.”

“The Government also remain committed to work hard to resolve past human rights violations cases, an equitable history─exactly like what’s been submitted by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights. In order to resolve past human rights violations cases, there are two paths we can go through, first, by comprehensive reconciliation. Second, by Ad Hoc Human Rights Court, that had been submitted in detail by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights.”

“The implementation of human rights is not only related to law enforcement but also on how the Government can guarantee the economic rights, social rights such as right to education, health, and also provide guaranteed protection for freedom of religion and beliefs.”

“The Government not only commit and attentive for settling past human rights cases but also prevent the recurrence of human rights violations in the future, by reforming a firm, reliable, consistent and non-discriminatory legal system.”

“On the occasion of this International Human Rights Day commemoration, I need to convey that the Government have received a petition for clemency from Eva Susanti Bande, a former human rights’ activist. According to my source, Eva Bande moved farmers against injustice. I heard that she is in the process of applying for a clemency and I’m considering to grant it.”

Realization of his speech and statement is certainly awaited by the victims and family of human rights violations. It is a certain that we still remember Jokowi’s promise during the campaign, as it was stated in the Document of vision, mission and program of Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla, that settlement of past human rights violations is one of 9 Priority Agenda (“Nawa Cita”). Settlement of past human rights violations itself is the fourth Priority Agenda, including respect for human rights and equitable settlement of past human rights violations.

Two pathways in resolving past human rights violations (comprehensive reconciliation and Ad Hoc Human Rights Court) that mentioned by President Joko Widodo in his speech are actually not new mechanisms. Those mechanisms have been on the agenda of Indonesia’s nation since 1998 reform. Reconciliation is a mandate of MPR Decree No.V/2000 on National Unity and Integrity. The Decree mandates the Government to trace past human rights violations and abuse of power by establishing Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). An establishment of TRC as a mechanism to resolve past human rights violations has already enacted in Law No. 26/2000 on Human Rights Court. Indonesia have also committed to establish TRC in Papua and Aceh. As for settlements through Ad Hoc Human Rights Court have legal basis in Law No. 26/2000 on Human Rights Court.

Both mechanisms for resolving past human rights violations in the 10-years of reign of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono were never realized. SBY’s administration, for 10 years, had failed to complete the draft of TRC Act in the Parliament. Whilst 6 cases of past human rights violations that have been investigated by Komnas HAM, never bring to justice. Even recommendation from Parliament in 2009 to establish an Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for settling the case of forced disappearances in 1997/1998, didn’t run by the President.

The important fundamental question to be asked to President Joko Widodo is, what are Government’s measures to ensure the settlement through those mechanisms? Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly in many occasions stated that the draft of TRC Act would be incorporated into the priority, which called National Legislation Program (“Prolegnas”). While the plan to establish Ad Hoc Human Rights Court would be jointly discussed with General Attorney, Minister for Coordination of Political, Legal and Security and Komnas HAM. Minister of Justice and Human Rights is expecting it to be finished in 2015.

ELSAM consider that those Government’s measures could be done. However, referring to President SBY’s failure for his 10-years administration to resolve past human rights violations, there were significant political barrier due to political actors that allegedly involved in various past human rights violations have managed to build political power. The steps to complete the draft that shall be discussed in Parliament is not an easy task, because of the possibility of political parties’ resistance or the time that would be wasted during the discussion.

Another alternatives, as well as driven by civil society, step to be taken by the President is to establish a committee or special team under his authority. This new institution will be Ad Hoc with specific mandate, such as accelerating process of resolving past human rights violations, disclosing the truth and providing recommendation to the President to undertake further steps for settlement. This committee would be easily established by the President since it is using legal basis that enacted by him.

Another important aspect that should be done in order to implement President’s commitment is providing clarity of settlement duration. The Government need to prepare a clear road map about the settlement, at least for the next 5 years. The road map is necessary to achieve two-way settlements, TRC and Ad Hoc Human Rights Court, which will ensure the fulfillment of victims’ right to know the truth, right to justice and right to reparation, as well as measures that must be taken by the Government to ensure that such violations would not recur in the future.

Author: Zainal Abidin
Editor: Ari Yurino