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New Attorney General repeats old excuses for not prosecuting rights cases

CNN Indonesia - November 8, 2019

Jakarta – The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has criticised remarks by the new Attorney General ST Burhanuddin when he explained the obstacles to resolving cases of past human rights (HAM) violations to the House of Representatives' (DPR) Commission III on Thursday November 7.

Burhanuddin told the DPR that resolving the cases is being hindered by the Komnas HAM investigation dossiers which are incomplete and because an ad hoc Human Rights Court does not yet exist. This statement, according to Komnas HAM Commissioner Chairul Anam, actually shows Burhanuddin's lack of understanding of the legal process.

"The problem is one of authority. The Attorney General has asked for additional evidence which is impossible, because this comes under the authority of criminal investigators, not [Komnas HAM's] investigators. This should be done by the Attorney General's criminal investigators", Anam told CNN Indonesia in an SMS message received on Thursday.

Anam said that Law Number 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts stipulates Komnas HAM's authority as an investigator while the Attorney General's Offices acts as the criminal investigator in the prosecution of gross human rights violation cases.

Meanwhile an ad hoc Human Rights Court, said Anam, only needs to be convened when the criminal investigation dossier is already complete. The completion of the dossier is important so that the status of the case is clear.

"When there is sufficient evidence, so they can proceed to trial and name suspects. Only then is the court is convened. So the process is that the investigation and criminal investigations are completed first, only then is a court convened and the prosecution begins automatically. The process goes ahead", he explained.

The other way to break the impasse to resolving cases of human rights violations, according to Anam, is that the Attorney General can issue an investigation order to Komnas HAM investigators then form an independent criminal investigation team. It is also important to involve human rights figures in order to build public trust.

"The solution which can be pursued by the Attorney General is to create an independent criminal investigation team involving HAM figures who understand HAM regulations, both national as well as international", wrote Anam in a written release.

However the fact of the matter, according to Anam, is that up until now the Attorney General's Office has never been in any hurry to carry out its duties and use its authority to finalise the case dossiers.

"This situation is like an old record being played over and over again, only the singer changes", he said.

According to Anam this situation increasingly demonstrates President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's lack of commitment to resoling cases of gross human rights violations. The evidence being that the Attorney General who has only just been appointed by the president does not understand how to handle the cases.

"Yet it is very clear, the president has received a bad report card on this, but now he had an opportunity to improve this by appointing an Attorney General who understands and is willing to resolve gross HAM violations", he said.

Burhanuddin explained that there are 12 cases of gross human rights violations "parked" at the Attorney General's Office. Eight of these occurred before the enactment of the Law on Human Rights Courts.

These cases include the 1965 anti-communist purge, the mysterious shootings in 1982, the Talangsari tragedy in 1989, the forced abduction and disappearance of pro-democracy activists in 1995-1998, the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II students shootings in 1998, the murder of "black magic" practitioners in 1998, the Rumoh Geudong torture cases in Aceh in 1989 and the Dewantara shootings also known as the Simpang KKA incident in 1999.

The four other cases which occurred after the Law on Human Rights Courts was passed include the Bloody Wasior incident in 2001, the Bloody Wamena incident in 2003, the Jambo Keupok incident in 2003 and the Bloody Paniai incident in 2014.

According to Burhanuddin, although Komnas HAM has already investigated the 12 cases they have yet fulfill the formal and material requirements. (ika/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Komnas HAM Kritik Jaksa Agung soal Penuntasan Pelanggaran HAM".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20191107211536-12-446527/komnas-ham-kritik-jaksa-agung-soal-penuntasan-pelanggaran-ham