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Aceh to set up KKR without national precedence

Jakarta Post - April 18, 2013

Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh – The Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA) is accelerating the deliberation of a provincial qanun (bylaw) to establish the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation (KKR) in Aceh by holding hearings involving activists and institutions concerned with human rights issues.

The process is deemed to be a measure to accommodate victims of human rights violations in Aceh during the separatist conflict.

Among the institutions attending the event were Elsham, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Aceh, Conflict Victims Community, Human Rights Watch and various other local institutions concerned with Aceh issues.

"The discussion on the KKR [in Aceh] was suspended after the Constitutional Court [MK] revoked the KKR law at the national level," said DPRA Commission A member Muzari.

He said the DPRA began deliberating the qanun on Aceh KKR in 2006 after the Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government signed the peace accord in Helsinki. In fact, the qanun on Aceh KKR was deemed the highest priority for the DPRA to pass.

"However, the national law on the KKR was canceled, which had implications on the KKR qanun we would have established in Aceh," said Muzari.

The MK canceled Law No. 27/2004 on the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation in 2006 on the grounds that such a commission would not be able to provide legal certainty.

However, as Aceh is regarded as having special privileges in a number of matters, the DPRA decided to deliberate the qanun despite the fact that the Constitutional Court canceled the law.

"We have other bases from which to deliberate the KKR qanun, such as the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or the Aceh Administration Law that stipulated the establishment of the KKR in Aceh," said DPRA Commission A chairman Adnan Beuransyah, who was appointed to discuss the KKR issue.

Based on the Helsinki MoU, Aceh is obliged to issue a qanun on the KKR despite Indonesia lacking such a commission at the national level.

The accelerated deliberation of the KKR qanun was warmly welcomed by human rights activists in Aceh, as well as at the national and international level.

"We believe that accountability for past crimes serve as a foundation for post-conflict reconstruction by referring to supremacy of the law and respect on basic human rights," said Human Rights Watch representative Andreas Harsono.

Andreas said the Helsinki peace treaty and Aceh Administration Law had explicitly given mandate to the Aceh administration to form the KKR.

The KKR is also deemed as a way for victims of human rights abuse in Aceh to seek justice and prosecute human rights violators.

Kontras Aceh, as one of institutions monitoring human rights violations in Aceh, also warmly welcomed the measure taken by DPRA to deliberate the KKR qanun.

"The victims have often been disappointed by the government's enforcement of human rights. They are currently doing the best they can to fight for their rights," said Kontras Aceh director Destika Gilang.

Destika said human rights activists considered that the community was ready to testify against human rights violations they experienced in the past. The community readiness, Destika said, would be meaningless if the DPRA lacked commitment to establish the KKR through a qanun.

"The legislative institution must ensure that they are committed to deliberate and pass the qanun on KKR in Aceh," said Destika.