M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) observed that the government is still arrogant in terms of resolving past gross human rights violations.
This was conveyed in response to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam) Mahfud MD's statement at the State Palace on May 2, 2023.
"We condemn the statement by Menkopolhukam Mahfud MD during a press conference at the Presidential Palace," KontraS Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti said on Wednesday, May 3.
In the press conference after meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and 19 other high officials, Mahfud said the government would not apologize for past gross human rights violations. According to him, the meeting discussed the follow-up of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) regarding the non-judicial settlement of past gross human rights violations.
"There is no apology from the government to the public because of the case, but the government acknowledges that the case did occur," Mahfud said.
Fatia believed that the absence of an apology shows the arrogant face of the state to the wounds and sins of the families of victims. She argued that an acknowledgment without an apology and an act of responsibility will not provide justice to the victims.
"Apology is certainly important because it is a form of symbolic reparation as the beginning of efforts to truly admit mistakes," the rights group activist underlined.
She said the acknowledgment and apology to the victim should be followed up with action to restore the rights of the victims and the victims' families, as well as legal action to bring to justice the alleged perpetrators of gross human rights violations. "Keep in mind that victims of gross human rights violations are those who have suffered from the abuse of power."
Liability for gross human rights violations
Fatia mentioned that according to the law that applies universally, the state has a series of obligations that must be carried out for gross human rights violations. These obligations include the obligation to remember, prosecute criminals, restore the condition of the victims, and prevent human rights violations from recurring in the future.
"The government can also learn from the South African government after the collapse of apartheid politics by having the courage to apologize, admit and take responsibility for their mistakes," she said.
Fatia said KontraS also lamented the government's efforts to resolve past gross human rights violations which only focused on non-judicial solutions, without finding the perpetrators. According to her, the statement shows impunity for human rights violators in Indonesia.
KontraS thus urged the government to thoroughly resolve gross human rights violations through the legal process, reveal the truth, and recover the survivors and the victims' families. KontraS also encouraged the president to resolve past gross human rights violations using a judicial mechanism by ordering the Attorney General to immediately follow up on Komnas HAM's investigation dossier.