Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called on the Attorney General's Office (AGO) to resolve past cases of human rights abuses in the country and show concrete progress in related settlement efforts.
Jokowi said the AGO held a critical role in resolving past human rights violations.
"The commitment to settling past rights abuse must be continued. The AGO is a key actor in settling these cases. Concrete progress in efforts to resolve the cases should be immediately shown," he said in an opening speech during the AGO's working meeting at the State Palace on Monday.
The President also called the AGO to have more effective cooperation with relevant stakeholders, particularly the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
The AGO, he further said, was "the face of legal certainty" in the eyes of the domestic and international public and must, therefore, work hard to improve the public's trust.
Jokowi's remarks came in the wake of protests against Attorney General ST Burhanuddin by activists and families of abuse victims over his controversial statement neglecting the Semanggi tragedies.
In a meeting with the House of Representatives in January, Burhanuddin said that the Semanggi I and II tragedies in 1998, which claimed at least 29 lives, did not amount to gross rights violations. The statement sparked public outcry, prompting activists to file a lawsuit against him to the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN).
The panel of judges issued a guilty verdict in early November, declaring that Burhanuddin's statement was substantially flawed and "against the law". The court ordered him to revoke the statement and immediately announce that the tragedies were serious rights violations based on the investigation result of Komnas HAM.
Burhanuddin, however, opted to challenge the verdict and filed an appeal to the Jakarta Administrative High Court (PTTUN), much to the dismay of activists and victims' families.
The institution was also at loggerheads with Komnas HAM over the investigation dossiers of the Paniai tragedy in Papua, which were returned to the rights commission on two separate occasions reportedly because of administrative errors.
The case, widely referred to as the Bloody Paniai case, occurred when security forces opened fire at a crowd of demonstrators in the Karel Gobay Field in Madi district, Paniai regency, in December 2014. The incident, which claimed the lives of five students and left 21 other civilians injured, was declared as a "gross human rights violation" by Komnas HAM in February 2015.
The investigation dossiers of the Paniai case was returned to Komnas HAM twice on March 19 and May 20, which led Komnas HAM to question the AGO's commitment to settling past human rights abuses.
The AGO denied Komnas Ham's claim it was reluctant to follow up on human rights cases, saying it had given clear instructions to the commission so that its dossiers could be up to the administrative standards of the AGO.
In his speech for International Human Rights Day on Thursday, Jokowi reaffirmed the government's commitment to settling past human rights abuses, saying that the government "will never stop [working toward] settling past [human rights] problems in a wise and dignified manner".
He added that he had instructed the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister to continue its work to settle past human rights abuses.