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Rights activist ask why government still hasn't signed UN genocide convention

Kompas.com - August 11, 2023

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) Director Galuh Wandita is questioning the Indonesian government's commitment to resoling humanitarian crimes because it still has not signed the United Nations convention on genocide.

This was conveyed by Wandita during a virtual discussion on a new draft article that is currently being put together by the UN on the Prevention and Punishment of Humanitarian Crimes on Thursday August 10.

Wandita said that it is difficult to hope that Indonesia will sign the new draft article being discussed because the genocide convention itself is already decades old and has still not been ratified by Indonesia.

"The big question is, and actually if we want to push for legal instruments at the national level (on crimes against humanity), then let's encourage Indonesia to sign or ratify the genocide convention", she said.

Wandita said that the anti-genocide convention was written in 1949 and there are 150 countries who have already signed it.

This includes, among others, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, North Korea and South Korea. Several Southeast Asian countries have also signed such as Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore.

'Why haven't we signed the genocide convention? That is a question for us. It also makes us look at just how weak Indonesia is, and its continued support for impunity", she said.

Yet, according to Wandita, if Indonesia wanted to ratify the convention it could also be a solution to the violent conflict in Papua, for which there is no end in sight.

"Actually if we signed the convention on genocide perhaps there would be more protection for our friends in Papua, our traditional community friends and so forth. So this is one aspect of our homework", she said.

As for the draft article talked about in the discussion, it relates to the draft currently being discussed by the UN Human Rights Council.

Andy Aron, the coordinator for legal, maritime and management affairs at Indonesia's Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, explained the articles being discussed at the UN were drafted to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations or crimes against humanity.

In addition to this, he said, it is hoped that the articles being discussed can used to punish perpetrators who are still above the law.

"This draft article was drafted with the motivation of punishing humanitarian crimes that are seen as more serious, crimes that are of concern to the international community", he said.

There are some 15 points in the draft article to be discussed at a major UN forum to become a convention for the punishment of crimes against humanity.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aktivis HAM Pertanyakan Komitmen Pemerintah yang Tak Kunjung Meratifikasi Konvensi Genosida".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/08/11/00051651/aktivis-ham-pertanyakan-komitmen-pemerintah-yang-tak-kunjung-meratifikas