Rizki Fachriansyah, Jakarta – Amnesty International has raised concerns over the United States' decision to lift a 20-year travel ban on Indonesian Defense Minister and former Army general Prabowo Subianto, claiming the sudden policy change could contradict prevailing laws.
Joanne Lin, Amnesty International's national director for advocacy and government affairs, said in a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that the decision to allow Prabowo to enter the country could be construed as a violation of the Leahy Laws.
The Leahy Laws prohibit the US government from using its resources to assist units of foreign security forces that are proven to have been involved in committing gross human rights violations.
"The State Department's recent decision to lift the ban on Prabowo is an abrupt, complete reversal of longstanding US foreign policy that has been in place for 20 years," Lin said in the letter dated Tuesday.
Prabowo was barred from entering the US for decades due to allegations of human rights abuses. He was included in a blanket ban on the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) for alleged human rights violations in East Timor when the territory was under Indonesian rule.
Lin said the diplomatic invitation for Prabowo must be revoked if it entailed immunity for the crimes he had allegedly committed.
"We urge you to clarify that the visa issued to Prabowo does not extend any form of immunity to him and to ensure that if he does travel to the US, he is properly and promptly investigated," Lin said.
Prabowo would meet his US counterpart Mark Esper during a five-day visit to the US starting on Thursday, the minister said in a video released by the Gerindra Party on Tuesday.
"America is an important country and I was invited, so I must fulfill the invitation," Prabowo said. "Even though we will have a long journey, [especially with] the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have to respect [the invitation]."
Prabowo went on to say he had reported the invitation to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who asked him to leave for the US.